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Missouri city destroys signs after discovering baseball field namesake is registered sex offender

Posted at 4:21 PM, Jan 23, 2018

GRANDVIEW, Mo. – City of Grandview, Missouri leaders said they wish they'd found out sooner that a man they named baseball fields after is a registered sex offender. 

For almost 40 years, the baseball fields at Shalimar Park were named after Jerald "Jerry" Ricker, who headed up a youth program in the 70s and 80s. The sign with his name sat there the whole time until recently when people learned more about his past.

Ricker has been a registered sex offender since 1989. He spent 20 years in prison for molesting a 12-year-old boy in Tucson, Arizona. Ricker was 44 years old when he committed the crime. 

"It just dumbfounded me to even think about it," John Shelton told Scripps station KSHB in Kansas City when told the information. 

The fields next to the former Ricker Fields are named after Shelton, an influential youth softball program leader. 

Shelton is revered and well-known in the community — quite the contrast from Ricker. 

Shelton said he only met Ricker once. 

"Nobody knew anything about it. When he came back here, he was just as friendly and nice and everything, and I didn't know that much about the man anyway," Shelton said. 

Shelton said a story went around that Ricker had died. He is now back in Missouri and living near Jefferson City. 

Grandview Spokesperson Valerie Poindexter said the city leaders just found out about Ricker's history last month and were horrified. 

"Parks and Rec directed the contractor to destroy the signs. At no point are they to be put up again. The fields are no longer named 'Ricker Fields,'" Poindexter said. 

KSHB called Ricker but he didn't answer.

City officials came across a review of Shalimar Park on Google, showing Ricker using an alias and commenting that he is looking forward to the park's rededication ceremony. 

The park, specifically Shelton Fields, are undergoing a renovation.  

Grandview said that ceremony on March 24 will in no way include Ricker and that he is not invited. 

"We just spoke to him on the phone today, just to make sure he knew those fields are no longer named after him," Poindexter said. 

Shelton said his goal was to influence kids to play sports and doesn't want Ricker's actions to affect the park. 

"I'd hate to see something run down or make a bad name for Grandview," Shelton said.