Chief Noc-A-Homa, who says the Atlanta Braves expect a full-time Indian for part-time pay, is under attack from the club's management for missing outside appearances and may lose his job after 17 years as the baseball team's mascot.
Levi Walker, who portrays the chief, concedes he missed three appearances this year and was warned that another no-show could cost him his job. He then missed an appearance in North Carolina when his car broke down, and was notified in writing that his employment would be on a trial basis through the end of the year.
For wearing Indian regalia, performing a war dance on the mound before Braves home games, greeting youngsters at his tepee in the left field seats and leading fans in whooping cheers, Walker makes $60 per home game -- or $4,860 a year -- and gets to keep the money from as many as 150 personal appearances a year, which are booked through the team office.
But Walker argues, "The organization has not done right by me. They call me on short notice and tell me I have to appear here or there. If I was paid as a full-time employe, with medical insurance and dental care, then my time would always be theirs. As it is, I have to scrape to make a living."
Braves Executive Vice President Al Thornwell said a decision on whether to retain the chief will be made after the season, based on his value to the organization. "Noc-A-Homa doesn't determine the outcome of games . . . although a lot of people wanted to think so the year we lost 19 of 21," Thornwell said.
That was 1982, when Noc-A-Homa's tepee was taken down to provide extra seating, primarily for Falcons football. The tepee was reinstalled and the Braves regrouped and won the NL West . . .
All-star Tim Raines has joined several Montreal Expos teammates in voicing displeasure over treatment by the front office. Raines cited lack of publicity, salary disputes and recent published comments by Expos President John McHale over the club's past problems with drugs as his main bones of contention.
"I want to make it clear that I don't owe the Expos anything," Raines told an interviewer. "They seem to think I'm obligated to them because they helped me through my drug problem, or because I spent my first five years with them.
"But they're wrong. My life will go on without Montreal. I don't feel I have to be in Montreal for the rest of my career, and I won't be unless they start making me feel at home."