Cubs’ Rick Monday saved the American flag

Odds are high that readers of any blog are too young to remember. Heck, I’d forgotten about it until Matthew Tabor reminded me.

April 25, 1976: Rick Monday, center fielder for the Chicago Cubs, saved the U.S. flag.

Rick Monday snatches the U.S. flag from burning

Get the story from Tabor’s blog. He offers credits to

Major League Baseball was kind enough to preserve the story, which you may watch below.


14 Responses to Cubs’ Rick Monday saved the American flag

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    You were related to James Roark, William?


  2. William Roark says:

    James Roark that took this famous picture was mugged in an alley & died from his injuries. He was in Portland Oregon


  3. Dave :-{) says:

    Rick Monday
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    Rick Monday
    Center fielder
    Born: November 20, 1945 (1945-11-20) (age 64)
    Batesville, Arkansas
    Batted: Left Threw: Left
    MLB debut
    September 3, 1966 for the Kansas City Athletics
    Last MLB appearance
    June 20, 1984 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
    Career statistics
    Batting average .264
    Home runs 241
    Runs batted in 775
    Kansas City / Oakland Athletics (1966–1971)
    Chicago Cubs (1972–1976)
    Los Angeles Dodgers (1977–1984)

    Career highlights and awards
    2× All-Star selection (1968, 1978)
    World Series champion (1981)

    Robert James “Rick” Monday, Jr. (born November 20, 1945 in Batesville, Arkansas) is a former center fielder in Major League Baseball and is currently a broadcast announcer. From 1966 through 1984, Monday, a center fielder for most of his career, played for the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics (1966-71), Chicago Cubs (1972-76) and Los Angeles Dodgers (1977-84). He batted and threw left-handed.

    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.

    Contents [hide]
    1 Playing career
    1.1 High School
    1.2 College
    1.3 Professional
    1.3.1 American flag incident
    1.3.2 1981 NLCS
    1.3.3 Connection with Jay Johnstone
    2 Broadcasting career
    3 Trivia
    4 References
    5 See also
    6 External links

    [edit] Playing career
    [edit] High School
    Monday began his baseball career starring at Santa Monica High School earning league honors.

    [edit] College
    Tommy Lasorda, then a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, offered Rick, and Rick’s mother Nelda, $20,000 to sign with the Dodgers out of high school in 1963. But Arizona State University coach Bobby Winkles, who was also from the Monday’s native Arkansas, convinced them that he would look after Monday.[1]

    A star for the Sun Devils under head coach Winkles, on a team that included freshman Reggie Jackson, Monday led the Sun Devils to the 1965 College World Series championship (over Ohio State) and earned All-America and College Player of the Year honors. For the 1965 season he hit .359 with 34 extra-base hits.[1]

    Monday was selected with the first overall selection in the inaugural Major League First-Year Player Draft in 1965 by the Kansas City Athletics.[1]

    [edit] Professional
    Monday started his major league career with the Athletics. He then spent several productive years with the Cubs, and was traded to the Dodgers just in time to join a team that won the National League pennant in 1977 and 1978.

    Monday’s finest season as a professional came in 1976 as a member of the Chicago Cubs. Batting in the leadoff position, Monday hit .272, establishing career highs in home runs (32), runs (107), RBI (77), total bases (271), slugging percentage (.507) and OPS (.853), finishing 18th in the MVP voting.

    [edit] American flag incident

    Photo by Jim Roark
    Rick Monday grabbing the American flag away from two protesters.The two most famous moments of Monday’s career were both associated with the Dodgers. In the first, 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 they had brought with them. 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 from the ground to thunderous cheers. He handed the flag to Los Angeles pitcher Doug Rau, after which the ballpark police officers arrested the two intruders. When he 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.”[2] On August 25, 2008, Monday was presented with an American flag flown over Valley Forge National Historical Park in honor of his 1976 rescue.[3]

    At the end of the season, the Cubs traded Monday to the Dodgers in a five-player deal with two players (one of whom was Bill Buckner) going to the Cubs.

    At the September 2nd, 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers game, Rick Monday was presented with a Peace One Earth medallion by Patricia Kennedy, founder of the non-profit organization Step Up 4 Vets, for his actions on April 25, 1976 and his military service with the Marine Corps.[4]

    [edit] 1981 NLCS
    By 1981, Monday was mostly a utility player when the second moment occurred. In the deciding Game 5 of the NLCS at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, he smashed a ninth-inning home run off the Expos’ Steve Rogers that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 Dodgers victory. Monday’s home run dashed what turned out to be the Expos’ only chance at a pennant in their 36-year history in the National League. Even today, heartbroken Expos fans refer to the fifth game of the NLCS as “Blue Monday.”[5] Los Angeles went on to win the 1981 World Series, defeating the New York Yankees 4 games to 2. As would be expected he proudly wears that World Series ring and is honored to be one of the few to have bumped off the Yankees in the fall classic.

    [edit] Connection with Jay Johnstone
    Monday was born on the exact same day, month and year as Jay Johnstone, a fellow outfielder and teammate of his on the Dodgers’ 1981 World Series champions. Both also served in the Marine Corps Reserve in the 1960s. Both also played for the Cubs, Athletics and Dodgers.

    [edit] Broadcasting career
    Soon after his retirement as a player, Monday became a broadcaster for the Dodgers. He began in 1985 by hosting the pregame show and calling play-by-play on cable TV.


  4. Eddie says:

    The video has been removed… I would have loved to have seen it. I’ve never heard of this story.


  5. Nick Kelsier says:

    Ok, Tim, the flag should be protected why exactly? And you do realize that you can also burn an effigy in protest. So that one kind of renders your claim being set aside special to be “burned in protest” moot.


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    You may burn your car as a protest if you wish — but of course, you will be liable for any laws you violate in the process, such as creating a fire hazard, or destroying the property of others. Check with your local fire department — they may help you burn it, if you let them get to the flaming wreckage as a training exercise. If you do that, you can get lots of local television coverage for your protest.

    Be my guest.

    The American flag, however, stands for your right to burn stuff as a protest, including an American flag. Don’t like it? Hey, in Iran, they can give one the death penalty for burning a flag. Want to move?


  7. Tim B. says:

    Also, under the First Amendment, I guess I can light the protesters on fire in protest of their “free (action) speech.”


  8. Tim B. says:

    Monday’s a Marine vet and Lasorda was in the Army. They served and did what was right. What bothers me is how the Supreme Court still can’t make the difference between “speech” an “action.” If I burn my car in protest of foreign manufacturing, I’ll be tossed in jail…my defense of it as a “speech” will in fact be called “arson.” I’ll get jail time, and rightfully so, because there’s no freedow of “action” in the USA, only freedom of “speech” – which means VERBALLY STATING your opinion on an issue – NOT a PHYSICAL ACTION (ie., burning something) in reference to that issue.

    But the Court doesn’t get it. They’ve specifically set the flag aside – by itself – as the one thing you can desecrate under a “speech.” Someone can burn the flag, call such an “action” a “speech” and the Court backs that up. My point is, treat the flag with the same respect of anything else that is burned in protest – treat it as a “action.” It’s not a “speech” to light something on fire. A burned house or car can’t go unprotected under the law under the auspices of “free speech,” so give the flag the same respect. Don’t allow it to go blatantly unprotected.


  9. Dane says:

    Some people do the right thing without hesitation. Some people stand back and wonder should I do something or should I get involved. Rick Monday is a true American and a good man for saving the flag from those punks. The burning of a flag doesn’t change anything or motivate anyone but when someone uses good to triumph over evil, everyone who sees it is motivated. Those two idiots probably still don’t realize their actions caused a reverse effect. Hundreds of thousands of people were uplifted and felt more patriotic.
    Thank you Rick Monday. America needs more people like him.


  10. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m wondering: Is there any redeeming value in that last post?


  11. jim B says:

    youre an idiot. get your lardass into your minivan and head over to mickeyD’s for a Big Mac. be sure to yak on your cell or text one of your fellow loser idiot friends. i’m guessing youre probably 20. what a moron, you’ve been trying hard to be one it’s obvious, must’ve been working real hard at being so stupid these past 20 years.

    Chauvanism. hmm. if that means buying into the idea of doing all the “dirty work” so that pond scum like you can sit in confort behind their laptops, then yes you are correct. Get it strait you dumb dumb (nice way of saying dumb-f@ck). A lot of great people DIED just to protect the freedom you so pitifully take for granted. They DIED protecting your freedom, and all the symbolism that goes with it. If dumb dumb’s like you and MARK F (sorry dude- I’m same age and saw the game too- you’re friggin old enough to know that burnign the flag is patheic) want to do something to protest America, then find a better approach. Run for Congress. Write a billboard sayig how much you hate it here. But do NOT attack our flag which is near and dear to people you can’t even come close to comparing to. I’m sorry your so offended that he’s chavanistic in your feeble mind. Go back to eating your twinkees and go back to sleep for the next 20 years. When you “wake up” we’ll talk. Loser


  12. Ed Darrell says:

    I’ve been looking to see if anyone identified the two flag burners. Kinda looks like Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, to me. Just wondering.


  13. Mark F. says:

    Being a long-suffering Cubs fan and being over 40, I do remember that game. I was actually watching it on TV as it happened. I’ve never seen the footage in the clip though. I was watching the game on WGN and they refused to put the camera on the 2 guys doing the deed. It was probably Jack Brickhouse doing the play by play at that time, but I do remember whoever it was saying that they were not going to give these 2 the satisfaction of being on TV while trying to burn the flag. Then I saw Monday come into the frame from the right field side and all the booing going on. I don’t have a problem with Monday doing what he did. Nor do I have a problem with people wanting to burn the flag. It wasn’t the place for them to do it though in my opinion.


  14. bernarda says:

    Lasorda is a joke for trying to pretend to be a hero there. As to the protesters, why didn’t they have a Zippo? Poorly planned. Anyhoo, Monday was obviously brought up in good old American chauvinism.


Please play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes. While your e-mail will not show with comments, note that it is our policy not to allow false e-mail addresses. Comments with non-working e-mail addresses may be deleted.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: