Tuesday, March 5, 2013
March 5- Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves
Back when I worked for Just Sports (@JustSportspdx) (the second time around) I was hired back as a store manager in Woodburn, Oregon at the outlet mall. It was a pretty sweet gig. We didn’t do as much business as the larger stores in the Portland metro area, but we made some significant strides with the product that we had; mostly stuff from the other stores that couldn’t be sold. No worries. When I took over the store in January of 2005 our yearly goal hovered around $300,000. It should also be pointed out that my salary coincided with that total. In summation, the more money I made the store, the more money I would get. The first few months went by rather slow as our business at the time was dependent on tourism season. Oregon does generate a lot during the winter via tourism; however, people tend to flock toward the mountains and outdoorsy areas as opposed to doing outlet shopping. As the seasons changed, so did the clientele. Most of what I sold were hooded sweatshirts, Oregon and Oregon State gear and New Era Caps. Being the huge baseball fan that I am, I was always excited when customers would come in looking for MLB gear. It gave me a chance to talk some smack, but also get a feel for what people were coming in for so I could make requests for newer product. After the first year I increased the store’s volume by $100,000. The following year I increased it another $100,000 with the help of my good friend and assistant manager Matt Bressler (@mbressler13). Matt’s affinity for the game was equal to mine. He had played high school ball for Wilsonville High School and even pitched against Jacoby Ellsbury when Jacoby went to high school in Madras, Oregon. Nonetheless, it was always great to have someone to hang out with, do some work and talk sports with. It was also during this time that the Portland-based Just Sports locations were going to town on making custom New Era Caps. Since we were a smaller store we only got a few styles; mostly the all black and all white New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and other popular teams that would sell. We did; however, finally start getting every style of MLB game style caps and jerseys in the store as I started taking team orders to help boost profits. Not getting any of the cooler custom styles ever really bothered me until the one day I went out to the Clackamas Town Center location to drop off a product transfer.
My friend, store manager of the Clackamas location, Jason Cobb (@JasonMCobb) had been doing some work coming up with pretty original styles of custom New Era caps and selling them at an alarming rate. One hat in particular caught my fancy, but I never bought it. The hat was a lighter shade of royal blue, but it featured the Atlanta Braves Chief Noc-a-homa logo in white and red on the front. Now, I had mentioned in my post from January 3 that I wasn’t a huge custom New Era guy; however, this one, for some reason tickled my fancy. I mean, it was the Billiest of badasses. But… as I mentioned a second ago, I didn’t buy it. When they stopped making it and selling it the pain really started to settle in.
Years passed by and I didn’t give much thought to it. For some strange reason in January of 2011 the hat popped into my head, so I texted Jason to ask if he was ever going to make them again, or at least be willing to sell me his. Even through his text I could hear his laughter. I was hanging out with my best friend Samuel Spencer at the time and mentioned it to him as he was the assistant manager of the Lloyd Center location at the time when they came out. Now, he’s one of the top graphic designers for Nike (jealous). He said he remembered it and suggested that I check out a Web site called CraniumFitteds.com to see if they have it. I hadn’t even heard of the sight before, but I logged on immediately. Much to my chagrin, I didn’t find it in the color scheme that I wanted; however, I did find this one.
I completely understand all of the racial implications this logo exudes, but at the same time I also understand, from an artistic perspective, that it’s a friggin’ sweet graphic. The logo was first introduced in 1954 when the Braves resided in the fine city of Milwaukee. What’s most interesting is that of all the things the Braves held onto during the move, besides Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, is the Chief Noc-a-homa logo. From 1954 through the end of the 1989 season Chief Noc-a-homa appeared on jersey sleeves, patches and even in the main logo; however, it never once appeared on a hat… until now.
When New Era redesigned all the batting practice caps for this season the one that received the most amount of attention was the Braves, mainly for the sake of being too racist. To be honest, it’s my favorite of all 30 teams, including my beloved Oakland Athletics.
It’s really hard to put into words why I enjoy this logo so much, but then again there are some things which are better left unsaid. As a kid I always liked the Mohawk, but it’s all the other details: the earring, the intricacy of the feather and the war cry that make it so pleasing to the eyes. Most important, it’s a part of the team’s history. I know that sounds like a total cop-out of a response, but having not really found anything personally offensive with it, I don’t know how else to respond. At the same time I haven’t been given a solid response other than, “it’s racist” to make me feel any different.
It’s also with this same admiration that I designed my Braves tattoo around it. To be honest, I did a lot more research with other teams than I did with the Braves and Cleveland Indians when it came to my tattoos. In my mind I felt that some things need to be preserved and talked about, rather than just cast aside; a common theme in my life. People generally don’t take the time to really sit down and discuss what issues they take. So now, like my hat, it’ll always be with me.
The numbers I chose are pretty obvious, and I will go into much deeper detail in the future.
#3- Dale Murphy
#44- Hank Aaron
They have been, and will always be my two favorite Braves. I figure if I’m going to be totally politically incorrect by wearing the hat, I might as well mark it with two guys who were the biggest sparks of controversy in the franchise’s history. Aaron for being black during a time of hate and Murphy for being Mormon, but more importantly getting hosed every year on the Hall of Fame vote. Oh Braves! You so crazy!!!