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MLB, baseball teams to replace vandalized Jackie Robinson statue in Kansas

The MLB and its 30 clubs will replace the vandalized Jackie Robinson statue that was burglarized and destroyed on Jan. 25 in Wichita, Kansas, the league announced Thursday, the first day of Black History Month.

Bob Lutz, the founder of the nonprofit League 42, which put up the statue in 2021, also posted about the MLB's initiative on social media, calling it "amazing." The nonprofit, which was founded in 2013 and named after Robinson's jersey number, is a baseball league that exposes underserved youth to the sport.

"The Commissioner's Office and the 30 Clubs have committed funding towards the costs of replacing our Jackie Robinson statue and providing other means of support of League 42," Lutz said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "We are grateful for their contribution to our mission of celebrating Jackie's legacy through the youth of Wichita."

In addition to the statue's replacement, the MLB and the clubs will provide League 42 with funding to support the nonprofit's on-field and academic goals for its participants, according to the league's announcement.

The life-size bronze statue —part of the Jackie Robinson Pavilion in McAdams Park in Wichita and one of just four Robinson statues in the nation— was cut off from the ankles up and stolen in the early hours on Jan. 25. The remains of the statue were found by the Wichita Fire Department on Tuesday dismantled, burned and unsalvageable in a small trash fire.

Stolen Jackie Robinson statue
Stolen Jackie Robinson statue Wichita Police Department

While Wichita Police on Monday located the pickup truck that was used to steal the statue, officers and detectives are still investigating the motive of the robbery and looking for the people responsible.

Police Chief Joe Sullivan said  last week that he was "frustrated" by the incident and was keeping the start of Black History Month as a potential motive for the crime in mind as his department investigates the case.

Prior to the MLB's commitment to rebuilding the statue, League 42 had launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a new statue, collecting over $182,000 in donations. In an update posted to the fundraising page, League 42 said it will still use those funds to pay for more security and lighting around the podium for Robinson's statue.

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