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Destroyed Jackie Robinson statue stolen from youth field can be replaced thanks to GoFundMe donations and MLB

<i>Mel Gregory via AP</i><br/>Donations and a commitment by Major League Baseball will allow League 42 to replace this statue of Jackie Robinson after it was stolen and destroyed last month.
Mel Gregory via AP
Donations and a commitment by Major League Baseball will allow League 42 to replace this statue of Jackie Robinson after it was stolen and destroyed last month.

By Andy Rose, CNN

(CNN) — A Kansas youth baseball league will be able to replace a statue of Jackie Robinson that was stolen and destroyed last week after a flood of private donations – and a commitment by Major League Baseball.

Pieces of the statue were found burned in a public trash container on Tuesday, five days after it was cut off at the ankles and taken from a field for League 42, a nonprofit that provides low-cost baseball registration for children and is named for the jersey number worn by Robinson, who broke the Major League’s color barrier as its first Black player.

A week after the theft, the cost of replacing the statue is now covered, thanks to a GoFundMe campaign that has received nearly $170,000 as of Thursday morning. Bob Lutz, League 42’s founder, announced Wednesday MLB also committed to funding the replacement, writing on X it had “formalized their support for our youth.”

“We are grateful for their contribution to our mission of celebrating Jackie’s legacy through the youth of Wichita,” Lutz said.

A league source told CNN the MLB commissioner’s office and all 30 teams have committed funding toward the cost of replacing the statue and other means to support League 42.

The amount of the pledge was not immediately announced.

Money that is raised beyond the cost of the statue’s replacement will go toward supporting the league and improvements at the pavilion where the statue is displayed, including additional security, according to League 42.

The Jackie Robinson statue, which officials valued at $75,000, was designed by the late artist John Parsons. Lutz previously said the new statue will be created from an existing mold of Parsons’ original work.

Police have said the theft occurred shortly after midnight January 25. On Tuesday morning, the fire department responded to a call about a trash can fire in Garvey Park and found the pieces of the statue after extinguishing the fire, Wichita Police Department spokesperson Andrew Ford said at a news conference.

The theft and arson remain under investigation. On Monday, police said they found a truck believed to be connected to the theft.

“There will be an arrest but we’re going to make sure that when we do, we will have a solid case,” Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan said Tuesday.

CNN’s Jill Martin, Brammhi Balarajan, Sarah Engel and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

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