MLB steps up in a big way after Wichita’s League 42 hit by theft of Jackie Robinson statue

Wichita’s League 42 received a $100,000 gift Tuesday from Major League Baseball to help replace its stolen Jackie Robinson statue and “make that area around the Jackie Robinson Pavilion more secure and more aesthetically pleasing,” league founder and executive director Bob Lutz said.

The MLB and its 30 teams reached out to donate to the youth league after the Jan. 25 theft made national headlines.

“Words escape me as I express my appreciation to MLB for this generous offering,” Lutz said Tuesday on social media. “And we know MLB is not finished helping us with some more important announcements to come ... Their concern and interest has been impressive and I want to thank all of the MLB clubs for making this happen. Our tribute to the great Jackie Robinson, in the form of a statue in his likeness, will be back in August, better than before thanks to the help and support of MLB.”

“It’s a GREAT day.”

A GoFundMe also raised nearly $195,000 to help replace the statue — valued at $75,000.

The original statue was made by the late John Parsons, a friend of Lutz, for a discounted price of $41,500.

The 275-pound, bronze statue was made in 2021, recent enough that its mold is still viable to create the new statue at the same Loveland, Colo., foundry.

The non-profit league serves several hundred low-income youth in its baseball league every year. It’s opening night is Monday.

Robinson, who wore number 42, was the first Black player to play in Major League Baseball, breaking the color barrier when he suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

The statue made in his honor was found cut at its feet after an early-morning theft caught on camera.

At least three people were involved in the theft.

One so far has been charged in the case; police have said they expected others to be arrested. The thieves planned to scrap the metal in the statue for money, according to court records in the case.

On Jan. 30, firefighters were called to a fire at Garvey Park, about 7.5 miles south of where the statue was taken, and found it on fire inside a trash can.

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