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On this Date in 1976: Rick Monday Saved the American Flag from Being Burned

Rick Monday
Herald Examiner via Associated Press
WARNER TODD HUSTON

On this date in 1976, Cubs outfielder Rick Monday made what may be his most famous play when he ran out into left-field and snatched away an American flag from protesters who were trying to burn it.

On April 25, a pair of anti-American protesters ran out onto the field at Dodger Stadium and tried to burn an American flag in protest against the nation during that Bi-Centennial year.

Monday was tossing the ball with left fielder José Cardenal when the protesters invaded the field. Monday, though, wasn’t having the protesters’ nonsense and he quickly ran over to grab Old Glory away from the two.

The veteran Cubs player ran the flag toward the Dodgers’ dugout and handed it to Dodgers pitcher Doug Rau.

Police quickly rounded up the two protesters, William Thomas, and his 11-year-old son. Thomas was arrested and charged with trespassing.

By the time Monday came up to bat that day at the top of the 5th inning, he was lavished with a standing ovation by the fans in the stands.

“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,” Monday said after the game.

The next month, the Dodgers presented Monday with the flag he saved during “Rick Monday Day” on May 4, 1976. Monday says he still has that flag in his collection of baseball memorabilia.

In 2016, Monday threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium on the 40th anniversary of his flag-saving act.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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