ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves took action to “reduce the Tomahawk Chop” for Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
The decision was a response to recent concerns voiced by Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation and expressed displeasure with the chop during Games 1 and 2 in Atlanta.
As part of their efforts, the Braves did not distribute foam tomahawks to each seat for Game 5.
The Braves also announced that they would not play the accompanying music to the chant or use any “Chop-related graphics” on the scoreboard when Helsley was in the game.
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“We look forward to a continued dialogue with those in the Native American community after the postseason continues,” the team’s statement read in part.
The Braves did play the accompanying music to the chant multiple times Wednesday with Helsley not in the game, including the first inning and again after Josh Donaldson’s home run put Atlanta on the board in the fourth.
Helsley did not pitch for the Cardinals on Wednesday as they routed the Braves 13-1 to reach the National League Championship Series.
Helsley was informed of the Braves’ decision by Custom Atlanta Braves Nike Jerseys reporter before batting practice, and he was pleased with the Braves’ proactive stance during the division series.
“I think they’re taking the right steps,” said Helsley, who attended Sequoyah High School in Oklahoma. “I think it’s a positive thing. Fans might not like it, but maybe they can reflect back on it and see it was a good move.”
The Cardinals were also pleased that their opponent listened to one of their players and acted.
“It’s nice that the Braves are respectful of everyone involved, especially our player,” Cardinals general manager Mike Girsch said.