Thirty-five years ago to the day, two protesters ran onto the field just before the bottom of the fourth inning on a Sunday matinée at Dodger’s Stadium, baring lighter fluid, matches, and the American flag with the intent to burn it in front of the 25,167 fans in attendance. As the two poured lighter fluid over the mangled flag, Cubs center fielder Rick Monday went into action, snatching the gasoline soaked flag away from the demented duo, completing arguably the greatest play ever performed on a baseball field. As the protesters were promptly arrested, the crowd gave Monday a roaring ovation and broke into an impromptu rendition of “God Bless America”. When Monday came up to bat the next inning, as the crowd once again rose to their feet, the left field scoreboard read: “Rick Monday, You made a great Play!”.
The legendary Vin Scully called the play by play of the save: “Wait a minute, there’s an animal loose. Two of them! I’m not sure what he’s doing out there. It looks like he’s going to burn a flag. … “And Rick Monday runs and takes it away from him!”
Monday, A former marine, was quoted saying after the incident that: “If he’s going to burn a flag, he better not do it in front of somebody who doesn’t appreciate it”…”I’ve visited enough veterans’ hospitals and seen enough guys with their legs blown off defending that flag.”
Tommy Lasorda, Dodgers 3rd base coach at the time, who was rushing to snatch the flag himself from the protesters, praised Monday stating: “It was the greatest heroic act that’s ever happened on a baseball field,”… “He protected the symbol of everything that we live for. And the symbol that we live in the greatest country in the world.”
After he snatched the flag from the two protesters, Monday handed it off to Dodgers southpaw Doug Raw. Monday would receive the flag one month later from the Dodgers when they came to play at Wrigley Field. The flag now resides in Monday’s safe-deposit box. Monday was offered $1 million for the flag once, but he turned down the offer, saying that it is not for sale.
Thirty-five years later, it still remains one of the greatest moments in baseball history and one of the greatest acts of patriotism ever performed on a baseball field.
Nice play Rick Monday, nice play.