As his adopted hometown mourned Hank Aaron's death, some fans called on the Atlanta Braves to change their name to the Hammers in his honor, per the AP
. "Hammerin' Hank" died Friday at age 86, drawing praise from all segments of society—including the current and former presidents—for his Hall of Fame career and providing inspiration to Black Americans by overcoming intense racism in his pursuit of baseball's home run record. The governors of both Georgia and Alabama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Aaron—the Hammer was born in the port city of Mobile and called Atlanta home for much of his life. The NFL's Atlanta Falcons, MLB's Atlanta United and Georgia Tech's football team all announced they would retire Aaron's trademark No. 44 for their 2021 seasons. The number was long ago retired by the Braves.
The Hammer spent nearly all of his 23-year career with the Braves, whose nickname has drawn some criticism as being offensive to Native Americans. Social media buzzed with calls to change the moniker to match Aaron's nickname. There was even a fledgling online petition backing the idea. The Braves have steadfastly resisted calls to change their name, saying they view it as a tribute to Native Americans rather than a slur. But the team did take steps during the 2019 playoffs to downplay symbols of its nickname after St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley—a member of the Cherokee Nation—said he found the team's "Tomahawk Chop” chant offensive. Braves officials have not said whether those moves will be permanent when fans are allowed to return to games, but it has removed a “Chop On” sign that was near the entrance to Truist Park.
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