10/07/2002 11:05 pm ET
Fans dust off tomahawk chop
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- For the first time in their National League Division Series history, which is as long as there has been such a tier of the playoffs, it was time for Braves fans to get nervous.
That meant it was time for tomahawks.
The Braves played Monday night in a deciding fifth game for the first time since the NLDS became part of the postseason in 1995. The home team also was trying to end a string of six losses in potential elimination games. So the Braves handed out free red, foam rubber tomahawks to fans as they entered Turner Field.
The "Tomahawk Chop" has been synonymous with Braves enthusiasm since 1991, the year firefly Deion Sanders came brimming with confidence, jewelry and enthusiasm that hadn't waned since his days with the Florida State Seminoles -- whose fans have long done their own chop.
Braves fans' chop has lived, sometimes more enthusiastically than others. On Monday, some fans chopped only when prompted by organ accompaniment. During Vinny Castilla's two-out, two-on at-bat during the fourth (which ended with an infield grounder), the heartfelt chant rose, a capella, from the stands.
At times on Monday, Turner Field had the aura of now demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where the "Tomahawk Chop" tradition was strongest.
But Turner Field fans seemed to have ideas of their own. During key at-bats by Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez, chants of the hero's first name made the chop soundtrack seem contrived.
But that was fine.
The Braves wanted all the noise they could get, be it by chop or chant.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.