US Stamps

Screaming Savage uniform patch nowhere to be seen on upcoming stamp for Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron

May 6, 2024, 8 AM
The Atlanta Braves uniform Henry “Hank” Aaron is seen wearing on the upcoming United States forever commemorative stamp being issued in the baseball great’s honor is missing the Screaming Savage that normally appears on the uniform’s left shoulder.

Delivering the Mail by Allen Abel

Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, a son of the Jim Crow South who played the game of baseball for more than 20 seasons with majesty, efficiency and courage, will be honored with a United States forever commemorative stamp later this year. The stamp’s artist intentionally erased the peerless slugger’s team emblem, lest it offend.

Methodically, though never flamboyantly, Aaron, who died in 2021, ascended to the throne as baseball’s drug-free home run sovereign, eclipsing Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Henry Louis Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and every other man who ever mastered the heartbreakingly difficult art of putting a round bat on a speeding, spinning ball.

(Barry Bonds, infamous for his use of performance-enhancing drugs, ended his career with 762 home runs, seven more than Aaron, even though Bonds played in 312 fewer major league games. As of April 23, Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees leads all active players with 407 home runs.)

“Henry Aaron was one of the greatest ballplayers who ever played, and an even greater human being,” Ralph “Road Runner” Garr, who shared the outfield with Aaron as an Atlanta Brave in the 1970s, told Linn’s Stamp News.

“It was routine for him,” Garr, 78, said in a telephone interview from his home in Texas. “Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, in that environment at that time, he was determined to be an excellent baseball player, and an excellent person. He knew that you have to work at it, you have to demand respect by doing what’s right, every single day.

“I don’t think I ever saw him lose his composure,” Garr recalled. “He’d play a whole year and never make a mistake.”

In our age, the uniform insignia that the Braves wore for decades is considered by some Americans to be a mistake too abhorrent to be saluted or even seen. On the new Hank Aaron forever stamp, there will be no indigenous imagery at all, only a powerful avatar erased from cloth, from paper and from memory, leaving a blank space that speaks loudly of our times.

Certainly, Aaron, Garr and the hundreds of other men who played for the Braves franchise in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, did not choose to sport a uniform that featured, at first, an innocuous American Indian chief’s head replete with feathered headdress, and then, from 1957 to 1989, the Screaming Savage, a warrior with a Mohawk-style haircut, a single warrior’s plume and an expression of primal exultation.

(Even Babe Ruth had worn the Indian head during his brief time with the Boston club in 1935.)

“The emblem really was not our problem,” Garr said, looking back. “I have nothing but respect for American Indians. We played with respect for them. Then it got more into politics and got out of hand.”

The Screaming Savage was a fixture for a generation of players and fans. In 2024, however, contrition outslugged history.

“That was a decision to remove the patch that I decided to make on my own,” Chuck Styles, the Philadelphia artist whose original portrait is being used for the Aaron commemorative stamp, told Linn’s.

“Usually, when I do artwork of any person, I try to immerse myself with as much knowledge as possible,” Styles said. “I wasn’t around to see Henry Aaron play live, so for me doing my due diligence, reading up on the times when he played, I came to find out that the Atlanta team stopped using that Screaming Brave logo back in 1989.”

“With me being an artist of color, I know what it is like to want to feel represented, to want to feel safe,” Styles said. “I thought that there are ways that we can still honor the amazing Henry Aaron and not cause any disrespect to a marginalized group who might have felt pain from that image. … ”

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