Rumors are swirling that New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, could be dealt to the Atlanta Braves, who are looking to add some bullpen depth before the July 31 MLB trade deadline. If Joba is dealt to Atlanta, it's believed he'd be the first American Indian to wear a Braves uniform since pitcher Jack Aker, Potawatomi, in 1974.
Native American Aker pitched for the Braves in 1974. He was later pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians from 1985-1987.
Chamberlain, a lovable player (despite being a Yankee), an inspiring story, and one of the few current Native MLB players, started strong this season, only to end up on the disabled list on May 3. He earned his first win of the season Monday night in a victory over the Minnesota Twins. Overall he's appeared in 21 games, earning a save and four holds, with an ERA of 5.75.
Prior to the season Joba made headlines with the outstanding--and surprising--moustache he grew. After a rough April outing, Chamberlain shaved off the facial fluff and the Yankees proceeded to immediately go on a winning streak. "It wasn't doing us any good," he said at the time. "And I wanted to see if I still had an upper lip."
Joba, sans 'stache. His Buffalo Clan tattoo is clearly visibile in this photo.
Yesterday, the New York Post reported that the Braves are interested in dealing for Chamberlain. The Post's sources also indicated that the San Francisco Giants were interested in acquiring the Native fireballer, whose fastball hit 96 mph Monday night. Only 26, Chamberlain is set to be a free agent after the season, and isn't expected to be a part of the Yank's 2014 plans. So a deal seems likely.
Currently there are no Native players on the MLB teams that use Native mascots, the Cleveland Indians and the Atlanta Braves. While Cleveland is frequently a target by Native American groups, like the American Indian Movement, for their use of the grossly offensive Chief Wahoo logo, the Braves made waves prior to the 2013 season with plans to introduce a baseball cap featuring the "screaming Indian" logo. After heavy backlash, the club scrapped the cap.
If traded to Atlanta, at least Joba won't have to wear this offensive "screaming Indian" cap.