Despite some official disapproval from the City Council, the owner of the London Rippers (independent; Frontier League) says he has no plans to change the controversial team name.
It's fair to say there was a little disturbance in the Canadian community over the team name, which associates one of history's most notorious mass murderers with a baseball team playing at one of North America's oldest playing fields at Labatt Park. That's really not the sort of image city officials want to portray, but the disapproval is not deterring owner/GM/manager David Martin from keeping the menacing moniker. From the London Free Press:
"We have a responsibility, obviously, to put a good product on the field here," he said. "I know there was a little controversy about the name, but our goal was to jump-start (pro) baseball here and I think we did that. I think everyone knows professional baseball is back in London.
"As an organization, we're past that now," he added of the nickname brouhaha. "I know we have a lot of people here to win over, and it's going to start with the guys between the lines (his players). Hopefully they'll be good ambassadors for us.
"We've done everything we said we were going to do. The mayor said London was open for business and we've invested in London. We brought a $1-million franchise, we've invested in tourism, we've put butts in hotels and spent a lot of money in town, Furthermore, we've created jobs."
Of course, the city does have some level of recourse: it could choose not to renew the team's lease.
The team's first game is on the road this Friday at Southern Illinois; the first game at Labatt Park is set for May 25.
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