Jackie Robinson Statue Vandalized and Stolen In Wichita, Kansas: Nearly $200,000 Raised on GoFundMe, and MLB Steps Up for Replacement

Police in Wichita, Kansas, are currently investigating the vandalism and theft of a life-size statue of Jackie Robinson, a pioneering civil rights leader and professional baseball player. The incident occurred in McAdams Park, where vandals cut the statue at its ankles, leaving only a pair of bronze shoes standing on a base. Subsequently, charred pieces of the statue were discovered in a trash can at Garvey Park, approximately seven miles away, NBC Wichita reported.

Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson, Wiki Commons

Honoring Robinson

League 42, a youth baseball nonprofit in Wichita, unveiled the statue in early 2021 as a tribute to Robinson, whose jersey number, 42, is the league’s namesake. Crafted by the late artist John Parsons, the statue is estimated to be worth $75,000, according to Art News.

The community has rallied behind League 42 to support the replacement of the stolen statue. A GoFundMe campaign launched Jan. 28 by the League 42 Foundation has garnered nearly $200,000 in donations as of Feb. 6, with plans already underway to arrange for a new statue.

Major League Baseball has since pledged to replace the statue and support League 42’s initiatives, which extend beyond baseball to include after-school education, tutoring, and youth enrichment activities, according to the MLB website.

The surge in donations is likely to continue as donors commemorate what would have been Robinson’s 105th birthday on Jan 31.

What Happened to Robinson Statute

Surveillance footage revealed at least two individuals removing the statue from its pedestal and loading it onto a truck parked nearby. Investigators have not yet apprehended any suspects.

Robinson was the first Black athlete to play in modern Major League Baseball, breaking the sport’s color barrier in 1947. Throughout his career, Robinson faced racial discrimination and adversity both on and off the field. Major League Baseball retired his No. 42 jersey number across all teams in 1997. Robinson died in 1972.

He became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement, advocating for equality and social justice alongside leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Robinson’s contributions to sports and society were recognized with his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

The motive behind the statue’s theft remains unclear.

“For those of you who are in any way involved in this… this means whether you were involved in stealing the statue, whether or not you accepted the statue, you were part of the destruction of the statue … it is only a matter of time, and in your best interest to turn yourself in, come forward, and admit your part in this,”  Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said in a statement.

A reward of $2,500 is being offered for tips leading to the arrest of the suspects in the case.

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