London baseball team under fire for nickname
A new professional baseball team is trying to create some buzz in London, Ont., but not all of it is turning out to be positive.
The minor league London Rippers introduced their logo this week — a nefarious-looking man in a black top hat and cloak holding a baseball in one hand and a bat in the other.
To add a Canadian touch to the cartoonish logo, the 'i' in Rippers is dotted with a tiny red Maple Leaf.
But some say the name and logo together are a reference to Jack the Ripper, the notorious serial killer of women, who terrorized east-end London, England, in the late 1880s.
London Mayor Joe Fontana said in a statement he has "serious concerns" about the name "in light of our focus on ending woman abuse" and said he plans to speak to the owner about changing it.
Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women's Centre, said Thursday it's not so much the name of the team but the "very creepy-looking man" in the logo that puts it over the line.
The new logo was introduced with the tagline: "Lurking in Labatt Park this spring," she added.
"When you have a name 'The Rippers' and a top-hatted man named Jack, it's very easy to put together the connection to Jack the Ripper," she said.
David Martin, president and general manager of the team, has said the name is simply a play on words since "rip" is a baseball term.
The story has sparked international attention, with U.S. commentator Rush Limbaugh opining on his radio show that people are too easily offended.
Reaction on news sites Thursday was mixed, with some saying the name and logo are inappropriate and others saying it's not a big deal.
Others made sport of the story on Twitter.
"Who cares about the London Rippers? The Milwaukee Dahmers have been playing for years and nobody seems to care," tweeted kellytindall of Montreal, referring to modern-day serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Limbaugh said he also found the story funny, asking: "When you tell people they can't use Indian names, what do you expect 'em to do?"
But Walker said Martin has shown "incredible disrespect" towards London, pointing out that the new logo was announced on the same day the community marked Wear Purple Day to show support for abused women. The local reaction to the logo has been "overwhelmingly negative," she added.
Walker said she met with Martin on Thursday and asked him to get rid of the logo and the "lurking" reference. The team's owner said he'd take it into consideration, she said.
Martin could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The team's Facebook page features a video of "The Story of Diamond Jack" which tells the history of the character in the logo, a slugger who hit baseballs hard enough to "rip" open their covers.
"When all were asleep he would creep into Labatt Park, to practise his skills and hit some balls in the shadows of the dark," a voice intones.
"Each morning baseball covers were mysteriously found in the town, leaving signs of a great hitter around."
The video ends with Diamond Jack promising to give "all opponents a great scare" as he erupts into evil laughter.
Other teams in the Frontier League sport names like the Lake Erie Crushers, the Traverse City Beach Bums and the Washington Wild Things.