On April 25, 1976, during a game at Dodger Stadium, two protesters ran into the outfield and tried to set fire to an American flag they had brought with them. Rick Monday, then playing with the Cubs, noticed they had placed the flag on the ground and were fumbling with matches and lighter fluid; he then dashed over and grabbed the flag off the ground to thunderous cheers. Monday beat Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda to the “protesters.” I can’t imagine what Lasorda would’ve done to those guys.
The ballpark police arrested the two intruders. And when Monday came up 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.”
I still remember my Dad talking about this around the time it happened and he would get choked up just talking about it. So in this era of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, Bill Belli-cheat, and Pac-Man Jones all disgracing their respective sports, it’s good to see someone like Rick Monday standing up to do the right thing.