Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1976 TOPPS RICK MONDAY

A PATRIOT DRESSED AS A CUB.
NOTABLES LES ROHR AND JOE COLEMAN
WERE DRAFTED 2-3 AFTER MONDAY

THE FRONT PAGE

  • Rick Monday hit 241 home runs in his 19-year career, including the game-winner for the Dodgers in Game 5 of the '81 NLCS against the Expos. 
  • Perhaps his most noteworthy moment occurred on April 25, 1976, when while playing center field rescued the American flag from two protesters who were trying to burn it in the outfield of Dodger Stadium.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Monday finally reached 60 RBI in '75 after driving in 50-plus five times. Then in '76, Monday had a breakthrough year with a career-high 32 HRs and 77 RBI.

PHOTO PLAY

  • I always get confused and think Monday was playing for the Dodgers during the American flag game instead of against them with the Cubs. As the uni, cap and typography clearly display, he was definitely with Chicago in '76; he joined the Dodgers the following season.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Monday gave a great interview to MLB.com about the incident on the 30-year anniversary. Let him tell the story:




In between the top and bottom of the fourth inning, I was just getting loose in the outfield, throwing the ball back and forth. Jose Cardenal was in left field and I was in center. I don't know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two people ran on the field. After a number of years of playing, when someone comes on the field, you don't know what's going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Is it because they're trying to win a bet? Is it because they don't like you or do they have a message that they're trying to present?

When these two guys ran on the field, something wasn't right. And it wasn't right from the standpoint that one of them had something cradled under his arm. It turned out to be an American flag. They came from the left-field corner, went past Cardenal to shallow left-center field.

That's when I saw the flag. They unfurled it as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to pay homage but to harm it as one of the guys was pulling out of his pocket somewhere a big can of lighter fluid. He began to douse it.

What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it's wrong now, in 2006. It's the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented.

So I started to run after them. To this day, I couldn't tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad, I was angry and it was wrong for a lot of reasons.

Then the wind blew the first match out. There was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium. The second match was lit, just as I got there. I did think that if I could bowl them over, they can't do what they're trying to do.

I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It's soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can't light it if they don't have it. So I just scooped it up.

My first thought was, ''Is this on fire?'' Well, fortunately, it was not. I continue to run. One of the men threw the can of lighter fluid at me. We found out he was not a prospect. He did not have a good arm. Thank goodness.

Tommy Lasorda was in his last year as third-base coach before he took over for Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. Tommy ran past me and called these guys every name in the longshoreman's encyclopedia. 

Doug Raua left-handed pitcher for the Dodgers at the time, came out of the dugout and I handed the flag to him. The two guys were led off the field through the Dodger bullpen.

After the guys left, there was a buzz in the stands, people being aghast with what had taken place. Without being prompted, and I don't know where it started, but people began to sing God Bless America. When I reflect back upon it now, I still get goose bumps.





 When Monday came to bat in the next half inning, he received a standing ovation and the message board displayed, "Rick Monday you made a great play.'' 

Fly your flag today. Happy Fourth of July.

2 comments:

  1. Great post! I had the pleasure of interviewing Monday about the incident and he was so humble and gracious. Truly a great experience.

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  2. Fitting post for the 4th of July. Ever since I heard about this incident a couple of years ago I think of Rick Monday on the 4th of July and the greatest play he ever made.

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