Toomer’s Oaks, Traditions, and the Atlanta Braves

Toomer's Oaks
Toomer’s Oaks in February 2012

Last week, one of the great traditions in sports died.  Auburn fans gathered at the corner of College and Magnolia to roll Toomer’s Oaks one final time before University officials were forced to remove them.  The trees were poisoned by a deranged Alabama fan in 2010.

I’m not an Auburn fan.  I have no connection to the University or its football team.  In fact, I dislike the SEC.  But I appreciate a good tradition, which is why I made a detour in February 2012 while driving through Alabama to see Toomer’s Oaks for the first and only time.  The above picture is now a historical artifact.  The trees are now dead.

Throwing toilet paper on trees is a silly and juvenile act.  In any other context, it would be stupid and maybe even criminal.  But on Auburn game days, it became a great thing that united generations of Auburn students and alums.  Traditions don’t have to make sense.  In fact, the sillier and more juvenile traditions are, the better.  As long as it’s fun and unique to your city/team, it’s fine.

Which leads me to the Braves.  I’ve never seen a team more shameless about their traditions than the Atlanta Braves (as noted in HSHA’s Turner Field review).  The tomahawk chop is completely lifted from Florida State, who started chopping 10 years before the Braves.  Their seventh inning stretch song, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver, is taken from the Baltimore Orioles, who started playing it in the 1970’s.  The Braves mascot, Homer, is a simply a carbon copy of Mr. Met, who was created in 1963.

It’s all very sad.  The Braves have a talented team and a pretty passionate fan base.  They deserve better.  Perhaps they should look two hours down the road to Auburn University, an organization that understands what a tradition is all about.

The Braves' mascot is a complete ripoff of Mr. Met
The Braves’ mascot is a complete ripoff of Mr. Met

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