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Chief Noc-A-Homa's teepee in the 1980s
Chief Noc-A-Homa dancing after a Braves home run
Chief Noc-A-Homa logo

Chief Noc-A-Homa was the original mascot of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1950s until 1986. The name was used for the "screaming Indian" sleeve patch worn on Braves jerseys. From at least the early 1960s, while still in Milwaukee County Stadium, until the early 1980s at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium, this mascot "lived" in a tipi in an unoccupied section of the bleacher seats.

The name was intended to be a playful variation of "Knock a Homer." The mascot's job was to exit his tipi and perform a dance whenever a Braves player hit a home run.

Broadcaster Curt Gowdy, completely missing the point of the mascot's name, once referred to him in a way that sounded more like Japanese: "NO-KAH-HAH-MAH."

Late in Noc-A-Homa's duration, a young woman companion called "Princess Win-A-Lotta" was introduced. The original creator of the companion character was Princess Poc-a-homa.

In the late 1970s, when the previously mediocre Braves became contenders again, a peculiar superstition arose. When football season approached and the portable bleachers needed to be opened up for the Atlanta Falcons, the tipi was typically removed... and at that point, the Braves would typically start to lose. Superstitious fans claimed that disrupting Noc-A-Homa's home was the cause of their downturn, rather than the team just not having enough depth to sustain first place for the season. After this happened several years in a row, though, the story began to take on a semblance of truth.

The rumor reached a fevered pitch in 1982, when the Braves were in first place with a seemingly insurmountable lead. Needing additional seating for sellouts, the Braves removed the tipi and sold tickets to the seats normally supporting it. The Braves promptly lost 19 of their next 21 games and fell to third place.[1] When Braves management put the tipi back in place, the Braves went back to first place and ultimately won the Western division that year.

The best-known Noc-A-Homa was Levi Walker, Jr., an Ottawa native. In 1986, Walker and the Braves mutually agreed to end their relationship due to disagreements about pay and missed dates.[1] Walker petitioned the club to revive his role during the Braves' 1991 magical pennant run, but the Braves' management declined.

During the late 1970s, the Braves also had a green mascot called Bleacher Creature.

Noc-a-Homa was eventually replaced as the mascot by the characters Homer and Rally, most likely due to concerns over racism[2]. This has not, however, circumvented the introduction of other Native American-inspired traditions for Braves fans, such as the "Tomahawk Chop," adapted with the arrival of Florida State University multi-sport star Deion Sanders from Florida State's popular War Chant.

References

  1. ^ a b "Mascot Won't Return". the New York Times. 1986-01-19. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DE5DE113CF93AA25752C0A960948260. Retrieved 2007-06-30.  
  2. ^ http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/50AC3BDC-8572-48B2-BB98-990F4D8ACF88/0/stereotypingracism.pdf
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