November 16, 2011
Mention the words "London" and "Ripper" in the same sentence and most of us will naturally think of the serial killer who butchered English prostitutes in the late 1880s.
But after drawing criticism for naming their squad the "London Rippers," officials say that the infamous Jack the Ripper is not the inspiration behind the nickname for their minor-league team based in the Canadian city in southwest Ontario.
Uh, yeah, sure he isn't.
Team president and general manager David Martin was unapologetic, saying the name, Rippers, is a common baseball term that speaks to the bat prowess of the cartoon character they've created as part of a marketing strategy.
"That (Jack The Ripper) is not our story," said Martin, when told about the reaction. "Ripping a ball is used in baseball all the time."
Martin said 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 Phantom of the Opera meets baseball. He's a mysterious character who is somewhat edgy," said Martin.
Say, you know who was also a "mysterious character" who was, uh, "somewhat edgy"? The actual Jack the Ripper. The guy murdered at least five streetwalkers in the Whitechapel District and though his identity has never been revealed, he is most often portrayed as wearing a black top hat and a long black coat.
You know, just like the outfit the guy in the London Rippers logo is wearing.
Naturally, the team is drawing plenty of criticism from parties who rightfully see no difference between this moniker and naming a team from Milwaukee the "Dahmers" or a squad from Miami the "Cunanans." Maybe Martin would have some room to hide behind his "baseball term" claim if the team was from Des Moines. But considering it's from a Canadian city that shares a name with the world capital where Jack the Ripper did his work, it's just better to admit you gave the team a "somewhat edgy" nickname to attract attention.
I mean, c'mon. The guy in the logo doesn't even have a Phantom of the Opera mask:
"It doesn't matter what they think, it's what the people think," said Megan Walker, [executive director of the London Abused Women's Center]. "You don't have to be the brightest bulb on the block to realize Jack and Ripper go together. People are outraged. I think it's appalling. It's insulting and stupid and they better rethink their entire marketing strategy."
Judging from the comments on the London Free Press story, it won't be too long until Martin admits that the criticism is well-founded and a rebranding is in order. Considering the city's famous junior hockey team is named the Knights, they'd be well advised that royalty-related nicknames work a lot better — the London Pippas? — if you still want to play off the whole "London" thing.
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