When I first learned of the controversy attached to the nickname of London, Ontario’s new Frontier Baseball League team, I assumed it was because “Rippers” was being used in reference to the type of entertainment prevalent at a gentleman’s club. Before the virtuous among this blog’s readership begin chastising me for a filthy mind, it should be noted that we are talking about a city where a bawdy establishment called The Beef Baron makes its home.

Unfortunately, the reality is much worse. The London Rippers’ logo is in part comprised of  a comic version of a 19th Century gentleman whose face is partially masked in an obvious connotation to Jack The Ripper. Well, perhaps obvious to everyone not named David Martin.

The team’s president claims that there’s absolutely no connection between the brand new Southern Ontario baseball club and London, England’s infamous 19th Century serial murderer of women.

The character’s name is Diamond Jack, a frustrated hockey player who found he could ‘rip’ the cover off baseballs. Despite his talent, teams grew weary of the expense of replacing balls so Diamond Jack decided to form his own team in London, Ontario.

It’s fascinating that Diamond Jack apparently wears a top hat, dresses in a long coat and partially obscures his face in darkness. If the explanation is accurate, Martin appears to be an idiot, stunningly ignorant of the popular mythology surrounding the real life attacks against females. If it’s not accurate, he’s at best a liar, and at worst what the French would call a machiste.

To be perfectly honest, I think I’m more personally offended at Martin’s condescending and demeaning explanation than the actual name of the team. However, another common defense for the ill advised nickname has been a comparison to other racist and logos from professional sports. The very fact that a supporter would associate their brand with such examples should be all the explanation we need for understanding the moral grounding on which the logo stands. Poor past decisions should never justify future choices, otherwise history would be an ongoing repetition of awfulness. The whole purpose in remembering mistakes is to improve and further evolve so that they’re not committed again.

While the team’s logo and name may not naturally inspire offense for me, I can completely understand others taking umbrage at the blatant insensitivity of naming your team after something so clearly related to the abuse of women. Not helping matters in the least was that the logo and team name were revealed in London during a time designated by the city’s Abused Women’s Centre to raise awareness for violence against women.

London’s mayor Joe Fontana, has officially and pragmatically requested that the franchise reconsider its naming and logo choice:

While the team owner’s intention may not have been to draw a connection to Jack the Ripper, we believe this name is unfortunate particularly in light of our focus on ending woman abuse.

Despite municipal pleas, the team remains committed to the controversial name and playing baseball next summer alongside the Evansville Otters, Florence Freedom, Lake Erie Crushers, Southern Illinois Miners, Traverse City Beach Bums and Washington Wild Things as the only Canadian team in the Frontier Baseball League’s East Division.

Comments (29)

  1. Call me an ignorant 15 year old, but I really don’t hate the name. To borrow from Dan Szymborski, practically every team name has murders attributed to it. How many people have Blue Jays killed? Probably 26 (But yeah, the name/logo is insensitive).

    • But not every team’s name and logo connotes an infamous serial killer who preyed on and tortured women. And I really don’t like using what other teams have done as an excuse for insensitivity.

      Having said that, the name doesn’t create a natural revulsion to me. I merely understand why it might to some.

  2. Just wait until you see the cheerleaders uniforms.

  3. They are going to make so, so much money.

  4. I, for one, am going to find it hard not to drop at least a grand on every possible piece of Rippers chazerai.

    This is amazing and I hope to God the name sticks.

  5. “I assumed it was because “Rippers” was being used in reference to the type of entertainment prevalent at a gentleman’s club”

    I want to believe that Parkes isn’t this obtuse.

  6. The difference is that this is an “actual” guy who committed crimes – as long ago as they may have been committed. You can’t say that about The Vikings or others. Still its false logic to say that because other teams are poorly named that it is somehow ok that London’s baseball team will pay homage to a serial killer.

    Its not. People are making this out to be a political correctness issue – it is not. This is a human decency issue – that we don’t glorify violent, despicable crimes no matter how cute a mascot may look. If its not ok to have Charles Picton represented on a baseball shirt – there isn’t a person in the world that can say why Jack the Ripper should be different.

    • I can’t wait for the New York Son Of Sams to play the Miami Ice Truck Killers.

      • None of that change the fact that we would all be remiss not to own at least one piece from this unique moment in Canadian sporting history.

        For it to simply go away would be a travesty and a shame and make the world even more boring than it already is.

      • for the right to play the Scarborough Bernardos

        (…I now see why people think the name is insensitive)

        • that’s a good one, what about the Picton Pig Farmers…i’m sure if we wait 100 years it will be cute.

      • Washington Snipers?
        Oklahoma City Bombers?
        San Francisco Zodiacs?
        Wichita BTKs? [alternatively - Wichita Raders?]

        Yeah, so I think I just got a new idea for an OOTP12 league.

  7. “I can’t wait for the New York Son Of Sams to play the Miami Ice Truck Killers.”

    But that wouldn’t sell nearly as many t-shirts.

  8. I can see why people don’t like the name but I think it is great marketing. How many of us would even know London named their team the other day without the name Rippers? I would have kept the same name but changed the whole mascot concept. Make the mascot named Jack, but make him a true baseball ripper in that he is a slugger – the top hat and shady eyes clearly are a reference to a Jack the Ripper.

    I’d argue the reason we still hear about Jack the Ripper 130 later is the fact that he was never caught. Speculation as well as the passage of time has created a legend – not so much for the crimes but the mystery around him. Were people really upset when the movie From Hell made millions off the legend or tourist attractions in London use the crimes for profit?

  9. The name servied its purpose – it brought attention to the team. We’ll all be able to laugh about this at the end of the season when the team folds.

    • They’ll probably last 2 seasons and then fold. It’s not even London’s first Frontier League team, if I remember right they had one about 10yrs ago or so.

  10. Is it just me or does “The Rippers” make more sense as a Niagara Falls team name?

  11. I think they took their naming ideas out of Baseketball. New teams coming to the Frontier League include: The San Fransisco Fairies, Miami Dealers, and Detroit Lemons.

  12. I am a Londoner. I have heard about this constantly for 2 days. I have no idea why they thought this would be a good idea in the first place.

    What really insults my intelligence, though, is the absolute denial of an actual Jack the Ripper connection. They expect me to believe that not once, prior to the unveiling, did anyone notice the connection. That ” Diamond Jack, he’s a Ripper ” was never uttered out loud to anyone who said ‘That sounds familiar, wasn’t there a Jack the Ripper a long time ago?’ To pretend that Jack’s serial killer resemblance is anything but intentional, tells me that nothing else about the team owner’s reaction is genuine either.

  13. Honestly, as a minor league baseball team I think they played this perfectly. They released their name, got international attention, and everyone now knows about them. The publicity machine worked perfectly, and they can’t lose. If they don’t change the name people will go see them out of curiosity, and if they do change their name (which quite likely was the plan all along here) more people will know about it and come to the games. Very well-played by the wonderful world of independent league baseball!

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