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Cleats left after Jackie Robinson statue stolen, destroyed will be donated to Negro Leagues Museum

Jackie Robinson

WICHITA, Kan. — Cleats that were left behind when a statue of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was stolen from a youth baseball league park in Wichita, Kansas, last month will be donated to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

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The statue was cut off at the ankles, according to The Associated Press. Only the feet of the Brooklyn Dodgers star were left.

The statue had been in McAdams Park in Wichita, which is where hundreds of children play baseball in a youth baseball league known as League 42, the AP reported. League 42 is a youth league named for the jersey number Robinson wore with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“We thought it was the absolute right thing to do,” said Bob Lutz, who founded and operates League 42, according to ESPN. “It’s looking like the cleats will be delivered by April 11, definitely before Jackie Robinson Day (on April 15).”

“It’s kind of sad in its own way, that we’re building this little shrine of Jackie Robinson stuff that has been defaced or damaged. But it gives us an opportunity to speak to who he was, the characteristics and value of what he represented, even in the face of adversity. And that message really never goes out of style,” the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick said, according to the AP.

Kendrick said on Friday that there are plans to have a ceremony for the arrival of the cleats, ESPN reported.

“We have a story to tell,” Kendrick said.

A man was arrested in connection with the left and police say the motivation behind it was because the man wanted to sell it for scrap, the AP reported.

Donations came in following the theft, the AP reported. One of the donations was a $100,000 gift from MLB.

Robinson made his major league debut on April 15, 1947, with the Dodgers, according to MLB.com. He helped break the modern color barrier in baseball and paved the way for future Black baseball players. Before his MLB debut, Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. He would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

The Robinson statue was installed in 2021 at McAdams Park. The statue at the time cost about $50,000, Lutz said, according to MLB.com. The statue is now believed to be worth about $75,000, police said, according to ESPN.