On June 14 in 1976, Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday saved the American flag from being burned by protestors on the field.
During the fourth inning of the game, two fans ran onto the field and attempted to burn the American flag.
The pair was attempting to set fire to an American flag after dousing it with lighter fluid. But the matches kept blowing out in the breeze, giving Monday a chance to sprint and snatch the cloth. Monday handed the flag to Dodger pitcher Doug Rau, who was not in the game.
In the press box, Dodger Vice President of Marketing Fred Claire instructed operators of the stadium’s left field message board to type: “Rick Monday … You Made A Great Play.” A spontaneous chorus of “God Bless America” resonated from the crowd of 25,167.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Monday said about the moment, according to Dodger Insider. “But I knew what they were doing was wrong.”
“If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me,” Monday said after the game, the outlet reported. “I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”
Monday spent six years in the Marine Corp reserve before spending 19 seasons playing Major League Baseball.
“Rick still hears about the flag every day during the season,” said Dodger broadcaster Charley Steiner, Monday’s partner in the radio booth since 2005. “It doesn’t matter which city we visit, the list of fans who want to say ‘thank you’ range from a veterans group that fought in a war to an elementary school student who wasn’t even born at the time Rick was a player. Rick accepts the attention with modesty and grace. He says anyone would’ve done the same thing if they were in that situation. But not everyone is going to have the same reaction or be able to react in such a quick manner. He was the right person for the job.”
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