Donations to replace burnt Jackie Robinson statue reach $145,000 on baseball legend’s birthday… after brazen thieves in Kansas cut it off at the ankles and destroyed it last week
Donations poured in Wednesday to replace a destroyed statue of Jackie Robinson on what would have been the 105th birthday of the first player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
Major League Baseball pledged support. And the total raised through just one online fundraiser has surpassed $145,000, far exceeding the estimated $75,000 value of the bronze statue that was severed from its base at a Wichita, Kansas park last week. The police are looking for those responsible.
Only the statue’s feet remained at McAdams Park, where about 600 kids play in a youth baseball league called League 42, named after Robinson’s uniform number with the Brooklyn Dodgers, with whom he broke the major leagues’ color barrier in 1947.
Firefighters found charred remains of the statue Tuesday while responding to a trash fire at another park about 7 miles (11.27 kilometers) away.
A truck believed to have previously been used in the theft was found abandoned, and police said the theft was caught on surveillance video.
Donations to replace destroyed statue of Jackie Robinson total more than $145,000
Bob Lutz, executive director of the Little League nonprofit that commissioned the sculpture, said Wednesday in a message on X, formerly Twitter, that the MLB Commissioner’s Office and 30 clubs have committed funding for the cost of replacing the statue and providing other support.
“Surprising, huh?” he said.
Lutz previously said the money raised could also improve some of its programming and facilities.
In April, the group opened the Leslie Rudd Learning Center, which includes an indoor baseball facility and a learning lab.
“We’re not just baseball,” Lutz said. ‘We have after-school education, enrichment and tutoring.’
One of the largest donations is a $10,000 pledge from an anonymous former Major League Baseball player who won a World Series.
Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan, who announced the donation over the weekend, urged anyone involved in the theft to turn himself in and promised that arrests were imminent.
“The community, along with the business community and the nation as a whole, has shown an incredible outpouring of support,” Sullivan said in a statement Wednesday.
Police are continuing a hunt for vandals who cut the statue down at the ankles last week
The statue was thrown into a bin and set on fire, destroying the remains in the process
‘This effort highlights the kindness of the people and their determination to rebuild what has been taken from our community.’
Lutz, whose friend, the artist John Parsons, made the statue before his death, said the form is still viable and a replacement is expected to be erected within a matter of months.
“We appreciate what it represents,” he said. ‘It is important that we understand 600 children that this represents.
“And we do everything possible to educate our children about the role that Jackie Robinson played in life and civil rights, his life outside of sports. He is the absolute best role model you can imagine.’
Liga 42 drew attention to Robinson’s birthday in a Facebook post on Wednesday Postaland notes that ‘his legacy will last forever’ and asks for donations.
One of the largest donations was a $10,000 contribution from a former World Series winner
Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, paving the way for generations of Black American ballplayers.
He is not only considered a sports legend, but also a civil rights icon. Robinson died in 1972.
Lutz said the league appeals to “all kids, but especially kids of color” and that the connection with Robinson resonates.
“We can’t imagine being named League 42 without a Jackie Robinson statue in our park,” he said. “It was a no-brainer when we went about trying to name our league.
‘And the name League 42 came up. It was like lightning and struck. We knew we had our name.’