January 31, 2024 – Less than 200 miles from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, League 42 in Wichita featured a statue of Jackie Robinson, who integrated Major League Baseball in 1947 as the first Black player to break the color barrier. Last week, the life-size bronze statue of the Hall of Fame infielder was cut at the ankles, stolen and subsequently burned and destroyed.

In the wake of the theft, though, support has been abundant throughout the baseball community. Not even this crime, nor its implications, could keep baseball fans from honoring and commemorating one of its legendary greats.

Authorities in Wichita received a call on Thursday from LEAGUE 42 FOUNDATION— the Little League nonprofit that serves several hundred youth in its baseball league every year, and which installed the statue in 2021 — after surveillance video footage revealed the overnight theft. The statue was the focal point of the Jackie Robinson Pavilion in McAdams Park, home of League 42’s baseball complex.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President and Nashville Stars Board Member Bob Kendrickshared on social media that he is “absolutely heartbroken” upon hearing of the “heinous destruction [and] theft” of the statue. Not long after, users asked how they could pitch in to help fund a new statue, and League 42’s executive director and founder, Bob Lutz, responded that fans can donate to the league’s address: 1212 E 17th St N, Wichita, KS 67214.

Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan expressed determination that those who “robbed our community of a treasure” would be held accountable. The Wichita Crime Commission has also instructed anyone interested in donating to contribute to a GoFundMe page established for a new statue.

The statue is valued at approximately $75,000, but its impact isn’t measured in financial value alone. Its power to unite a community remains as strong as Robinson’s pioneering courage, and will only increase as baseball fans come together to foster greater support for the memories of one of baseball’s best.