A youth baseball field in Wichita, Kansas, is missing its Jackie Robinson statue. On Thursday, police asked the public to help identify the thieves who stole it.
The bronze statue was built for League 42, a program founded by executive director Bob Lutz in 2013. It stood at the entry point of several baseball fields as a beacon to the community, as he created the space in McAdams Park hoping to make baseball more accessible for every kid.
Damages were estimated to be $75,000 after the fixture was cut down to just its shoes, the City of Wichita announced.
Surveillance video was released Thursday evening, showing what appears to be a brown truck as it pulls up to the pavilion Wednesday night. At least two people can be seen working together to bring the statue down and load it into the vehicle before driving away.
Around midnight last night, someone stole the League 42 Jackie Robinson statue at the Jackie Robinson Pavilion in McAdams Park. pic.twitter.com/x0I3IhZhOg
— City of Wichita (@CityofWichita) January 25, 2024
The youth baseball program is based on the legacy of Robinson, who wore No. 42 when he became the first African American to play Major League Baseball, debuting with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
“This was the heart and soul of League 42,” Lutz told local outlet KWCH. "I'm still trying to process the fact that it's gone, but we'll do everything in our power to continue to honor Jackie Robinson in this community, and have the support of the community."
Overnight, our @League42ICT Jackie Robinson statue at McAdams Park was stolen. Someone cut it just above Jackie's shoes and hauled it off in a truck. Our organization is devastated. So am I. pic.twitter.com/Rw81g6i0BF
— Bob Lutz (@boblutz) January 25, 2024
Robinson's likeness was emulated by late sculptor John Parsons, who handcrafted the statue. Carol Parsons, his widow, said she was devastated in the wake of the theft.
“I was just, my heart, my stomach just dropped,” Parson told KSN as she recalled the phone call about the statue's disappearance. “He was so excited. He was humbled. It was the first sculpture he had actually done that was supposed to look like somebody."
Lutz obtained permission from the Robinson family to commission the figure. Parsons worked closely with the family to perfect Robinson's features on the piece, which took two years to complete.
Calling the theft "an embarrassment" for his community, Lutz said he believes the statue can be remade via a clay mold the artist left behind. But Parsons would rather see her husband's original work returned.
Anyone with knowledge of the crime can contact Wichita Police Investigators at 316-268-4407.