The London Rippers, a new professional baseball team from the city of London, Ontario, have been at the center of controversy since the team's name and logo were revealed Tuesday.
The logo for the London Rippers, the newest and only Canadian team in the US-based Frontier League, shows a menacing-looking man in a Victorian top hat and coat, wielding a baseball bat and ball.
The team's president and general manager, David Martin, said the name Rippers refers to baseball slang ("ripping" a ball), and not serial killer Jack the Ripper.
Martin told the London Free Press that the character on the London Rippers logo is actually named Diamond Jack, a frustrated hockey player who can "rip" the cover off baseballs, and who decided to form a team in London, Ontario. The hope is that this story will lure Canadian ice hockey fans to baseball games.
"It's Phantom of the Opera meets baseball. He's a mysterious character who is somewhat edgy," Martin told the Free Press. "I think this is going to help redefine baseball in Canada. We wanted to make it fun and make it Canadian."
But some London, Ontario, residents have expressed disgust at their baseball team's name being associated with a 19th-century serial killer from London, England, who was notorious for disemboweling his female victims, mostly prostitutes from the slums.
"You don't have to be the brightest bulb on the block to realize Jack and Ripper go together," Megan Walker, director of the London Abused Women's Center, told the Free Press. "It's insulting and stupid and they better rethink their entire marketing strategy."
"Naming the team after a serial killer. What were the owners thinking here?" one woman wrote on the London Community News website.
"London Rippers? Seriously? What, was London Bernardos already taken?" another Londoner posted on Twitter, according to the Free Press, and referring to Canadian convicted serial killer and rapist Paul Bernardo.
But other residents of London, a city of about 350,000 people located southwest of Toronto, didn't mind their new baseball team's name.
"I think those complaining are a touch too sensitive. This is a great team name, much better than the generic animal names or whatever… maybe you would have preferred if we called them the London Pine Trees or something?" a commentator posted on the London Community News website.
The London Rippers will join the Frontier League’s East Division, playing against teams from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois.
The league has yet to comment on the new Canadian team's name. Other Frontier League teams include the Traverse City Beach Bums, the Normal CornBelters, and the Joliet Slammers.
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