On Thurs., April 15, the 74th anniversary of Jackie Robin-son breaking the color line to become the first Black man to play in Major League Baseball, a group of about 100 baseball fans and community leaders gathered for the unveiling of a life-sized sculpture of the legendary hero.

The statute is part of a complete renovation of the north end of McAdams Park in Wichita, which has been underway for several years. The area is home to League 42, a community baseball program with a focus on serving inner-city and low-income youth. League 42 takes its name from Robinson, who wore the number 42. So, the new statue is a nod to the league’s namesake, but also meant as an inspiration to the players, many of whom, like Robinson, came from scrappy beginnings but will go on to thrive.

 The statue, designed by Derby sculp-tor John Parsons, features the slugger with his bat laying gently on his right shoulder, wearing his Dodgers uniform emblazoned with 1his number 42 and a wide, friendly smile. The statue is located along 17th Street in the newly constructed Jackie Robinson Pavilion, which features eight drawings by local artist Ella Baccus. She drew her inspiration for the drawings from the book “Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By,” written by his daughter Sharon Robinson. Each of the panels represents one of those values. Reconstruction of the area also includes a redesign of 17th Street that runs along the north side hasn’t been to the area in a of the Park. Although not part of the while might be surprised by most recent construction, anyone who the League 42 facility, which includes a refreshment center and restrooms.

 Under construction, just across 17th Street, is a new 10,500 square-foot facility that will house the league offices, an indoor baseball training/community center and a learning center that will provide after-school tutoring in reading and math.

The league strives to keep participation af-fordable by keeping the registration at only $30 per player or family of siblings. That fee provides each player with a full uniform, baseball glove if needed, and additional playing equipment such as catcher’s gear, bats and balls.

The registration fee doesn’t come close to covering the program’s operating cost of about $200,000 per year. Most of the league’s funds are generated from donations. Financial donations can be made on the league’s website league42.org.

In addition, the league constantly needs coaches and team ambassadors. To volunteer or for additional info, email league42wich-ita@gmail.com or call (316) 655-1028.

The 2021 League 42 season got underway on April 19. 

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