The Greatest Play in baseball wasn’t about a ball

The day was April 25, 1976.

The place was the Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles.

The time was the 4th inning.

And the man who saved the flag was Cubs center-fielder Rick Monday….

Robert James “Rick” Monday, Jr., age 67, is a former center fielder in Major League Baseball and is currently a broadcast announcer. From 1966 through 1984, Monday played for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics (1966–71), Chicago Cubs (1972–76) and Los Angeles Dodgers  (1977–84). In a 19-season career, Monday compiled a .264 batting average with 241 home runs and 775 RBI. He was selected an All-Star in 1968 and 1978.

Monday served in the Marine Corps Reserve as part of his ROTC obligation after leaving Arizona State.

On April 25, 1976, during a game at Dodger Stadium, two protesters, William Thomas and his 11-year-old son, ran into the outfield and tried to set fire to an American flag. Monday dashed over and grabbed the flag to thunderous cheers. He handed the flag to Los Angeles pitcher Doug Rau, and the ballpark police officers arrested the two intruders.

When Monday came to bat in the next half-inning, he got a standing ovation from the crowd and the big message board behind the left-field bleachers in the stadium flashed the message, “RICK MONDAY… YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…” He later said, “If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”

On August 25, 2008, Monday was presented with an American flag flown over Valley Forge National Historical Park in honor of his 1976 rescue. Monday still has the flag he rescued from the protestors; he has been offered up to $1 million to sell it, but has declined all offers.

Rick_Monday_American_FlagPhoto by Jim Roark

I wonder if this were to happen today, would there be a quick-thinking patriot like Rick Monday to save the flag?

I hope so, but I doubt it. :(

H/t FOTM’s Wild Bill Alaska

~Eowyn

9 responses to “The Greatest Play in baseball wasn’t about a ball

  1. This is my favorite!! Monday is a true patriot!

  2. Today, he may be booed for saving our flag…

  3. Typical Dodger fans!! When they’re not burning flags, they’re doing “the wave” or tossing beach balls around the stands – anything but actually paying attention to and respecting America’s game.

    LET’S GO, GIANTS!! :)

  4. Thank you Dr. Eowyn and Wild Bill Alaska for this inspirational post. You ask a good question. I think there would be patriots to save the flag.

  5. i had watched that game on tv and remember monday saving the flag as i remember him as a chicago cub ( i am a cardinals fan) monday to me was always a stand up and honest ball player. i believe there are still quite a few ball players still today that would do as monday did and save the flag it is the US media that has changed now instead of honoring the ball player he would be ridiculed and villified as some sort of basher of some one elses right to freedom of speech in burning the flag

  6. He should have had back up that would have stomped the shit out of the perps, before they got arrested! That my friends is justice!

  7. What other act could have spurred the crowd to an impromptu singing of “God Bless America”? Future flag-burners take note. No true American will be won-over by such traitorous action.

  8. Great post. I like what he said about his 19 yrs in MLB and being remembered for this act, it’s not a bad thing at all. No sir, not bad at all, you could have just stood there and watched like so many others would have.

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