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Officials find burned remnants of Jackie Robinson statue stolen from park

Jackie Robinson

WICHITA, Kan. — A statue of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson that was dismantled at its feet and stolen last week from a Kansas park was found burned and in pieces on Tuesday, authorities said.

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The statue, which was stolen from McAdams Park in Wichita, was found approximately seven miles south in Garvey Park in the southern area of the city, The Wichita Eagle reported. Pieces of the statue were found in a trash can that was on fire in Garvey Park, according to KWCH-TV.

“It’s not salvageable at this time,” Wichita police spokesperson Andrew Ford said during a news conference Tuesday at Garvey Park.

The statue of Robinson, who became the first player in modern history to break the color line in major league baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, had been stolen from the League 42 Baseball fields, according to the Wichita Police Department.

League 42 honors the number worn by Robinson during his 10-year major league career.

According to a Facebook post on Monday by the police department, investigators located and recovered the truck believed to be used in the theft of the statue.

City council member Brandon Johnson said a new statue will be built. According to League 42 founder and executive director Bob Lutz, the youth league still has a mold from the original sculptor, the late John Parsons, so the new statue will be identical, the Eagle reported.

“This is not the result we wanted, but it is a result,” Lutz said. “And now we can move on. We know what’s ahead of us, we know we are going to incorporate a brand-new statue that looks exactly like the old one … We are already working on that. In a matter of months that will be erected at McAdams Park and we are looking forward to that day.”

The statue, valued at $75,000, was dismantled before it was burned, Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said, according to the Eagle. The statue was installed in 2021 in McAdams Park, where roughly 600 children play in the youth baseball league, The Associated Press reported. It is the centerpiece of the Jackie Robinson Pavilion in the park, according to KWCH.

“It’s really disheartening to see the remnants of the statue, the disgraceful way in which it has been disrespected,” Sullivan said during the news conference, adding that “there will be arrests.”

Robinson played for the Dodgers between 1947 and 1956, leading the team to six National League pennants and one World Series title, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He was the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1947 and was the league’s MVP two years later. The six-time All-Star was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

A GoFundMe page has been started to raise money for a new statue. More than $28,000 had been raised as of Tuesday evening.