From $2 to $10K, people donate money after theft of Wichita’s Jackie Robinson statue

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Marcus Jones walked up to League 42 founder and executive director Bob Lutz during a gathering in frigid temperatures Saturday morning at McAdams Park and handed him $2 from his allowance.

“Because the statue is really my favorite,” the 7-year-old said. “It’s a baseball thing.”

Jones is signed up to play in the league for this first time this season.

Marcus Jones walked up to League 42 founder and executive director Bob Lutz during a gathering amid frigid temperatures Saturday morning at McAdams Park and handed him $2 from his allowance.
Marcus Jones walked up to League 42 founder and executive director Bob Lutz during a gathering amid frigid temperatures Saturday morning at McAdams Park and handed him $2 from his allowance.

The league, which primarily serves inner-city and low-income youth, has already signed up its maximum 600 children to play this summer.

This week the league made headlines across the nation, including in ESPN and The Washington Post, for a loss — its iconic Jackie Robinson statue was cut away at the feet and hauled off in a truck early Thursday morning.

Robinson, who wore No. 42, was the first Black player to break the racial barrier and play in Major League Baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The league is named after him. It took years of work for the league to get approval for the statue to be created and installed in 2021. It’s valued at $75,000.

The 300- to 400-pound bronze statue was cut off at the feet, which have now been removed as well. Roses with a card that says “We Miss You” were laid on the platform where the statue once stood at McAdams Park.

A group of 80 people gathered at the Jackie Robinson pavilion at McAdams Park on Saturday morning. A bronze statue of Jackie Robinson was cut down and stolen from this spot on Thursday morning. The statue is valued at $75,000.
A group of 80 people gathered at the Jackie Robinson pavilion at McAdams Park on Saturday morning. A bronze statue of Jackie Robinson was cut down and stolen from this spot on Thursday morning. The statue is valued at $75,000.

Lutz told about 80 people who braved the cold Saturday morning that the statue would be in that spot again, whether from the old one surfacing or a new one being built.

“It’s a death in the family,” he said.

A $2,500 reward has been offered for any tips leading to an arrest and an additional $5,000 if the statue is recovered. Leniency has been offered if the thieves return the statue soon.

Police are asking anyone with information to call detectives at 316-268-4407, the See Something Say Something hotline at 316-519-2282 or Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111. Callers can remain anonymous with Crime Stoppers.

Police Chief Joe Sullivan, who attended the gathering Saturday, told people, “Don’t give up hope yet,” and said his detectives have some “significant leads.” Police have released pictures and surveillance video of the theft.

Sullivan, who came to Wichita after serving as a leader in the Philadelphia Police Department, said that someone through a connection he has in Philadelphia pledged $10,000 to help repair the original statue or build a new one.

That person, who wished to remain anonymous, is a former Major League Baseball player who won a World Series, Sullivan said.

Lutz said he didn’t yet know how much money had been raised. Anyone wanting to give online can go to shorturl.at/dgAWZ.

One man on Saturday handed Lutz a check and said: “You know we love you ... you’re doing great things.”

A statue of legendary baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson was stolen from the League 42 field off of 17th Street recently.
A statue of legendary baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson was stolen from the League 42 field off of 17th Street recently.