St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley takes exception to Braves fans use of the “tomahawk chop” in game at SunTrust Park, a tradition since the 1991 season at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
In an article published Friday afternoon by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Derrick Goold, Helsley said the fans’ behavior is “disrespectful” and “kind of caveman-type” behavior.
"I think it's a misrepresentation of the Cherokee people or Native Americans in general," Helsley told Goold on Friday afternoon before Game 2 of the Braves-Cardinals series at SunTrust Park. "Just depicts them in this kind of caveman-type people way who aren't intellectual. They are a lot of more than that. It's not me being offended by the whole mascot thing. It's not. It's about the misconception of us, the Native Americans, and it devalues us and how we're perceived in that way, or used as mascots. The Redskins and stuff like that.
“That’s the disappointing part,” he continued in a conversation with The Post-Dispatch. “That stuff like this still goes on. It’s just disrespectful, I think.”
Goold wrote that Helsley's grandfather was full-blooded Cherokee, and the family has deep roots in the heart of Cherokee Nation.
Helsley, 25, is from Tahlequah, Okla. He made his major league debut April 16. In the regular season, Helsley was 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in 36-2/3 innings over 24 games.