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If I Had a Hammer: Atlanta Braves Should Honor Hank Aaron by Changing Team’s Name

Issue 261

Pro sports teams are loathe to alter their brands which are worth millions of dollars. But in this case, changing names is a no-brainer.

John Tarleton Feb 5

What an “Atlanta Hammers” logo could look like. Illustration: Leia-Lee Doran.

If you like this article, see “Choose a New Name for Washington’s Football Team.”

Sports teams with Native-American-themed names and images have come under intense pressure in recent years to cut out the cultural appropriation that many Native Americans find racist and demeaning. 

In July, the Washington Redskins dropped their longtime team name in the aftermath of the George Floyd demonstrations. The move followed years of protest. In December, the Cleveland Indians announced they would adopt a new team name in time for the 2022 season.

The Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs, Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League can all expect more scrutiny in the coming years.

As for the Braves, they could skip the predictable cycle of protest, intransigence and, finally, capitulation by simply honoring a legendary ballplayer with a catchy new team name. 

It’s time for the Atlanta Hammers. 

Henry Aaron’s death on January 22 at the age of 86 was met with an outpouring of love and reverence for the Home Run King. “Hammerin’ Hank”, as he was known, played 21 of his 23 seasons with the Braves, first in Milwaukee and then in Atlanta where the team moved in 1966. Late in his career, he faced down a deluge of death threats and racist hate mail and broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record of 714 in 1974. He finished his career two years later with 755 dingers. He was one of baseball all-time greats as well as a great human being. 

“His swing, his smile, his spirit, they were all beautiful,” former Brave Chipper Jones said at a memorial service for Aaron. 

Hank Aaron faced down a deluge of death threats and racist hate mail as he closed in on Babe Ruth’s home run record.

Forward-looking Braves fans have started a petition on change.org to change the team’s name to the Hammers. Dale Murphy, who starred on the Braves teams of the 1980s, has heartily endorsed the change. So far team officials have demurred.

To help visualize the change we want to see, the Indy’s Leia Doran has created a new Atlanta Hammers logo that maintains the same color scheme as the current team logo and deftly replaces the tomahawk with a hammer. She also created an Atlanta Hammers baseball card featuring an image of Aaron and his home-run swing. 

Pro sports teams are loathe to alter their brands which are worth millions of dollars and build fan loyalty across generations. Baseball can be especially change resistant. But in this case, the team name is a no-brainer. Leave behind the racially insensitive imagery and embrace an enlightened, snappy-sounding new name that will put a smile on the faces of baseball fans everywhere.  Expect those “Atlanta Hammers” caps and jerseys to fly off the shelves.

To the front office of the Atlanta baseball team, you’re welcome. And please cut us a check when you reap the windfall. 

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