Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Story of Rick Monday

Thirty-five years ago , major-league baseball‘s Rick Monday made what has been called one baseball’s greatest plays. On April 25th, 1976 the Chicago Cub's center fielder took his position on the field at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, not knowing that he was about to make history. On this day Rick would get both a steal and a save on the same play.


Monday began his baseball career starring at Santa Monica High School earning league honors.

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.
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.

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

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.

1976 was also the year Monday made what has been called one of Baseballs greatest plays:

AP Photo/Los Angeles Herald Examiner by James Roark

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." On August 25, 2008, Monday was presented with an American flag flown over Valley Forge National Historical Park in honor of his 1976 rescue of Old Glory.

Great story.

By 1981, Monday was mostly a utility player when another great 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."

Was the first person ever drafted in the amateur Major League Baseball draft.
Monday is still in possession of the flag he saved from being burned. He was offered a million dollars for it recently but turned it down.
Monday's "Blue Monday" home run (which crushed the Montreal Expos' championship dream) was not forgotten in Montreal. He reported, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, that when he was a broadcaster, years after the homer, he was unexpectedly held up at Dorval Airport by Canadian immigration officials, missing his connecting flight. When he inquired about the reason, he was asked if he was the former Dodger player, and got a smile.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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