Levi Walker Jr., who portrayed Braves’ Chief Noc-A-Homa, dies

Levi Walker Jr., who served as the Braves mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa for nearly 20 years, died Friday, according to Atlanta News First.

The following was posted on the Chief Noc-A-Homa Facebook page on Friday: “The man, the legend and great warrior of my life has crossed over to paradise with full restored health. He is dancing in the sky and free of pain. To all his fans prayers for the family are appreciated at this tough time in our life. RiP Levi Walker aka Chief noc-a-homa! You lived life to educate and entertain and you have done well. Love you forever my Dad. You will always be my hero.”

Chief Noc-A-Homa served as the team mascot from 1966, when the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee, until 1985. Three men played Noc-A-Homa in Atlanta, though the most famous was Walker, who took over the job in 1969 until the mascot ended before the 1986 season.

“I went to the Braves in full uniform and said you got a white guy doing this job,” Walker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2015. “I told them if you want to hire a bartender, you bring in someone who can make drinks. I told the Braves, you want a real Noc-A-Homa, you need a real Indian, and that was me.’’

The idea of Noc-A-Homa made its debut when the Braves went from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953. The name originated from the screaming Indian patch the players wore on their sleeve. There was a teepee built at old County Stadium in Milwaukee and every time there was a home run, smoke would rise out of the teepee and the Chief, in full Indian dress, would come out and perform a dance.

During the days of home run hitters Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, Noc-A-Homa became popular, especially when Walker was hired.

Levi Walker, who served as the Braves’ mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa from 1969 through 1985, and his wife, Teri Ficula, visit the SunTrust Club at Turner Field before a game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Atlanta. This is Walker’s first Braves game since 1988. (AP Photo/Jon Barash)

Credit: Jon Barash

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Credit: Jon Barash

Born into the Chippewa-Ottawa Tribe and later a member of the Odawa Tribe, Walker is from Charlevoix, Michigan. When he took over the job, he became a big part of the atmosphere at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where fans young and old visited his teepee in the left-field seats.

Walker, 81, had been in failing health for the past several years.

On his favorite moments with the Braves, Walker told the AJC: “I have three of them. The first was Hank Aaron’s 715th home run. Here was a black man trying to break a white man’s record, and he was getting death threats and everything. When he hit the homer into the bullpen, (reliever) Tom House caught it and I ran with him on to the field at home plate. What a great moment. Then there was the time Gene Garber stopped Pete Rose’s hitting streak and the third one came in the Fourth of July game in 1985 that lasted until four in the morning and the only home run hit was by pitcher Rick Camp. The fireworks went off and people living around the stadium thought they were bombing Atlanta.”