What ever happened to the “tomahawk chop”?
By Brandon Park
"Swung, line drive left field! One run is in! Here comes Bream! Here's the throw to the plate! He is...SAFE! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!...Braves win!"
It has been 16 long years since Skip Caray made that magical call following a Francisco Cabrera single that would score David Justice and Sid Bream to beat the Pirates in the 1992 NLCS and send the entire Braves nation into a frenzy.
The season before, 1991, would see the reworked Atlanta Braves hit, pitch and field themselves to a league's best 94-68, worst-to-first record, eventually making it all the way to the World Series before losing to the Minnesota Twins.
A lot of things happened because of that 1991 season. A lot of things that would change the face of our Atlanta Braves and the fan-hood that carried the team for years to come.
The blow of losing Dale Murphy, the face of the franchise and an Atlanta legend, to the Phillies a year earlier was softened, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz began their pursuit to the Hall of Fame, Ron Gant and David Justice became household names and childhood idols and Bobby Cox began his reign as king of the dugout.
And, the tomahawk chop was introduced. Everyone was doing it, all the time. It seemed to help them win. It seemed to lift spirits out of Fulton County Stadium and place them on higher levels. It was the battle cry of a city in support of their team and that team's quest for a championship.
Homemade tomahawks started sprouting up all over the state on mailboxes, hanging on walls and protruding from the grounds of yards everywhere.
Students in shop class were cutting them out of wood blocks and giving them to their fathers on Father's Day. It was a staple of the Braves fan, at one time.
And there was the chant, "Oh...oh...ohoh...ohoh...oh...ohoh" that echoed through the state like thunder. The Braves had arrived and the fans were exploding with support.
Then, in 1995, by riding the wave of the tomahawk chop, the Braves finally delivered Atlanta its first professional championship with a World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians.
It was like the great scene of a classic movie when the camera panned the stadium from high above during game six. Every fan in attendance was chopping in complete unison. Every arm was moving simultaneously to a chant bellowing from every mouth, so loud it felt like it could be heard in Valdosta. It was the tomahawk chop and we were on our way to winning a World Series.
And finally, after reaching the series and losing three times in the past five years, fans could rejoice in sweet victory. In our heart of hearts, we all believed that our battle cry we pushed on every team that stepped foot in our house was the reason the Braves were on top.
So what happened to the tomahawk chop? Now, 16 years removed from that remarkable, unforgettable 1991 season, and while spanning five Wold Series appearances, one World Series win and 14 straight division titles, the tomahawk chop has vanished with the players and the championships that once drove a city into pandemonium.
It is still out there. It can be seen occasionally, trying to make its way into the seats of Turner Field, but it is rarely heard over the boo's and loud bursts of obscenities.
The Braves have fallen on hard times over the past couple of seasons by not producing records and championships like we have all become accustomed to. As a result, fans have lost interest and enthusiasm.
But don't get discouraged. This is how professional sports work. Teams are bad, they build, they get good, they become great, players get old, teams get younger, the rebuilding process begins and teams are bad again.
We waited a long time to win, and it came. Now we have to wait once again.
And it will come. In time, fans will soon realize that the heart of their Atlanta Braves beats with the pumping and chanting of the tomahawk chop.