Kansas State – Authorities are seeking assistance from the public to locate the individuals responsible for the theft of a statue depicting the iconic baseball player, Jackie Robinson. The incident occurred at a public park in Wichita, Kansas.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, surveillance footage caught the culprits entering McAdams Park’s Jackie Robinson Pavilion. They swiftly made their way to the statue and skillfully loaded it onto a pickup truck.
The suspects removed the statue at the ankles, leaving only Robinson’s feet behind. According to the city, the estimated cost of the damages is approximately $75,000.
During a press conference on Friday, Wichita Chief of Police Joe Sullivan expressed his frustration with the individuals who had the audacity to remove the statue of Jackie Robinson from a park. The park is a place where kids, families, and the community gather to learn about the history of Jackie Robinson, an American icon, and play baseball. Chief Sullivan emphasized that this act should upset all of us. He also noted that the theft occurred just before the start of February, which is the beginning of Black History Month, adding to his concerns.
Artist John Parsons constructed the statue, which was generously donated to the community by League 42. This nonprofit organization, named after Robinson’s iconic number with the Brooklyn Dodgers, has a mission to introduce baseball to the youth of Wichita.
League 42 reportedly invested approximately $50,000 in acquiring the sculpture, which was installed in 2021, as per the Associated Press.
In a Facebook post, the non-profit organization expressed their distress over a devastating incident that occurred overnight. They revealed that the Jackie Robinson statue, situated at the McAdams Park facility dedicated to League 42, had been stolen. This unfortunate event struck a heavy blow to the organization, leaving them deeply saddened.
During the press conference, Councilman Brandon Johnson, a member of the Wichita City Council, expressed his conversations with several families who shared feelings of hurt and disappointment regarding the stolen statue.
Johnson was left speechless by the horrendous and disgusting act, causing him to pause. He echoed the sentiments of the chief and the district attorney, urging anyone in possession of the statue to bring it forward immediately.
During the press conference, the Wichita Metro Crime Commission announced that they are providing a reward of up to $2,500 for any tips that lead to arrests, and a separate reward of up to $5,000 for tips that result in the recovery of the statue. They emphasized that the tips can be submitted anonymously.
“We are determined to not only retrieve the statue, but also ensure that those responsible for stealing this invaluable treasure from our community are held accountable,” Sullivan asserted. He emphasized that the Wichita Police Department has dedicated significant resources to this investigation and is actively working towards a resolution.
In the realm of Major League Baseball, Robinson made history as the pioneer who shattered the color barrier. Before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, he showcased his skills with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro leagues and later with the Montreal Royals in the minor leagues.
The signing marked the end of segregated baseball and paved the way for more Black players to join the major leagues. Throughout his tenure with the Dodgers, Robinson achieved numerous accolades. He was crowned Rookie of the Year in 1947 and earned the title of National League MVP in 1949. Additionally, he was a six-time All-Star and celebrated a World Series victory in 1955.