Paul Lukas — the czar of all things sports uniform — revealed the batting practice caps of all 30 MLB teams earlier this morning. There isn’t too much of note there, other than the Toronto Blue Jays confusing themselves with the Toronto Maple Leafs… and the Atlanta Braves possibly incurring the wrath of everyone.
Atlanta’s new batting practice cap, which you can see above, features the “Screaming Indian” logo. For the uninitiated, the “Screaming Indian” was dropped from the team’s alternate retro jersey last year due to its, you know, racist overtones. Naturally, people are surprised that it’s back, especially since teams have been distancing themselves from offensive references to Native Americans in recent years.
The Redskins, as you may remember, were recently sued in an effort to get their offensive nickname changed, but the Supreme Court upheld the original judicial ruling which allowed Washington to keep its name. (Lukas details some other controversies as well, if you’re curious.) And as Big League Stew notes, the Cleveland Indians have done away with the “Chief Wahoo” logo and gone with the neutral “C.”
I expected Twitter to react rather harshly to the re-emergene of Mr. Screaming Indian, but the bag was mixed.
— Justin P. Hebert (@Jpizzle82) December 27, 2012
— redbreard (@danielcrane44) December 27, 2012
The Braves screaming Indian is offensive, yet there’s a team called the Indians. fck ESPN the Braves hat is sick
— Julien Benjamin (@bravesfanjulien) December 27, 2012
I for one, love the screaming Indian logo. #Braves
— Todd Murphy (@toddamurphy) December 27, 2012
— John Beattie (@JohnBeattieNESN) December 27, 2012
I gotta get one of those new Braves BP hats with the Screaming Indian before someone gets “offended.”
— Biloxi Von Lutz (@biloxxxi) December 27, 2012
@tomahawktalk Yep. Especially since New Era has made custom screaming Indian caps for years… Oh well, I’m a sucker, I’ll buy the new hat.
— Joel Mendelson (@JPMendelson) December 27, 2012
The #Braves have worn throwback uni’s in games with the screaming Indian logo before & nobody complained. Stop being so f’n sensitive
— J Reeves (@jreeves7x11) December 27, 2012
Here’s SB Nation’s Talking Chop detailing the history of the logo dating all the way back to 1954.
“The Braves franchise began using the logo in 1954 while in Milwaukee; using it first as an alternate logo, then adding it as the sleeve patch, changing the sleeve patch from the Indian with the headdress to the new ‘Screaming Indian.’ The logo was originally an outline style logo, then changed to a full color logo, then became the outline style logo again in 1972, the year that the logo actually disappeared from the uniform.
The Screaming Indian disappeared altogether from the Braves (in any official capacity) in 1990, when the logo became the word ‘Braves’ with a tomahawk underneath. The Screaming Indian logo was discarded in part due to pressure from Native American groups who opposed the use of Native American imagery on sports uniforms.”
No matter how the Braves PR department tries to spin it, the logo is racist – it’s just a screaming Native American head, emphasizing stereotypes and the emotional simplicity of a people. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the public pressure, whether that means disregarding it completely or scrapping the hats to appease the masses.
Do head on over to Talking Chop to see the evolution of the logo.