Chief Noc-A-Homa

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Chief Noc-A-Homa
Noc-a-Homa praying.JPG
The Chief taking the mound.
TeamAtlanta Braves
DescriptionNative American
First seen1966

Chief Noc-A-Homa was a mascot for the Atlanta Braves from 1966 to 1985 that was primarily played by Levi Walker.[1] After being a mascot for the Braves franchise for two decades the Atlanta Braves retired the mascot before the 1986 season.

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

The mascot's tradition started in 1964 while the franchise was in Milwaukee.[2] The first recorded instance of the concept came when a 16-year-old high school student named Tim Rynders set up a tepee in the centerfield bleachers.[3] He danced and ignited smoke bombs when the Braves scored.[3] When the franchise moved to Atlanta the mascot was named Chief Noc-A-Homa.[4]

Chief Noc-A-Homa's teepee in the 1980s

During the 1966 season, the Atlanta Braves held a contest to name their mascot.[5] Mary Truesdale, a Greenville, SC resident was one of three people who entered "Chief Noc-A-Homa" the winning name chosen by the Braves.[5] The first Chief Noc-A-Homa was portrayed by a Georgia State college student named Larry Hunn.[6] During the 1968 season, after training from Hunn, Tim Minors took over as Noc-A-Homa.[6]

In 1969, Levi Walker approached the Braves about having a real Native American portray the chief.[7] Walker got the job, having grown weary of life as an insurance salesmen, warehouse worker, and plumber.[7] He served as the mascot until it was retired before the 1986 season.[2] Walker an Ottawa native and an Odawa Native American, was the most famous version of Noc-A-Homa.[2]

Chief Noc-A-Homa could be found at every home game in a tepee beyond the left field seats.[2] There were the times when the tepee was taken down to add more seats.[2] Superstitious fans sometimes blamed losing streaks on the missing tepee.[2] In 1982, when the Braves opened the season with 13 wins, owner Ted Turner removed the tepee to sell more seats.[2] The Braves lost 19 of their next 21 games and fell to second place.[2] Turner told team management to put the tepee back up and the Braves went on to win the National League West.[2]

Princess Win-A-Lotta[edit]

The Chief and the Princess
conferring before a 1983 game.

In 1983, Chief Noc-A-Homa was joined by "Princess Win-A-Lotta" who was portrayed by Kim Calos.[8] After suffering a serious back injury in a car accident that cut her season short, the Braves chose not to bring Princess Win-A-Lotta back in 1984.[9]

Retirement[edit]

In 1986, Walker and the Braves mutually agreed to end their relationship due to disagreements about pay and missed dates.[1] Walker made $60 per game and received $4,860 for 80 appearances.[10]

Controversy[edit]

In 1972, Russell Means filed a $9 million lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians for their use of "Chief Wahoo."[11] Means also objected to the Braves use of Chief Noc-A-Homa.[11] Means said "What if was the Atlanta Germans and after every home run a German dressed in military uniform began hitting a Jew on the head with a baseball bat?"[11] Means was unaware that Chief Noc-A-Homa was portrayed by a Native American.[12] For a week, controversy raged.[12] Walker went on radio talk shows to defend Noc-A-Homa. Walker said "I think Indians can be proud that their names are used with professional sports teams.[12] Ultimately Noc-A-Homa survived the controversy.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mascot Won't Return". The New York Times. January 19, 1986. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rosenberg, I.J. (September 30, 2015). "Whatever Happened To … Chief Noc-A-Homa (Levi Walker)". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Braves Keep Hopping". Oshkosh Northwestern. May 25, 1964. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Milwaukee Origin of Chief Noc-A-Homa". Milwaukee Public Library. August 7, 2016. Retrieved February 16, 2020. The Braves didn't have a formal or informal name for the mascot until the Rover Boys broke Milwaukee's heart, relocated the franchise to Atlanta for the 1966 season and named the mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa.
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Jim (July 29, 1966). "Top of the Morning". The Greenville News. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Roberts, Charlie (April 9, 1968). "Braves on Reservation Plan Tepee Party". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Sheeley, Glenn (August 20, 1983). "Tepee tempest baffles Chief". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Hudspeth, Ron (September 22, 1983). "Cooling trend breezes on in". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  9. ^ Hudspeth, Ron (October 27, 1983). "3 dog 'Stooges' fail to amuse cop arresting woman". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Howard, Susan (January 18, 1986). "Braves decide Noc-A-Homa won't be back". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c "Indians on the Warpath". The Charlotte News. January 19, 1972. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d Hudspeth, Ron (January 19, 1977). "Good News for Kiddies: Noc-A-Homa Returning". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 16, 2020.