The Greatest Play in Baseball

The Greatest Play in Baseball

Rick Monday Saves the American Flag, Greatest Play in Baseball
Rick Monday Saves the American Flag

I thought I would share with everyone the greatest play in baseball.  The 40th anniversary of Rick Monday saving the American Flag from burning in the middle of Dodger Stadium during a Cubs – Dodgers Game on April 25, 1976.  It is a moment in baseball or for that matter all of sport’s history that I will never forget.  Take a few minutes to watch this short video.  I think it will inspire you.


Why Rick Monday’s Greatest Play Still Matters Today

On April 25, 1976, baseball star Rick Monday made, what I consider to be, the greatest play in the history of baseball. While standing, on alert at his centerfield position for the Chicago Cubs he saw two young men run onto the field carrying an American flag. A father and his 11 year old son laid the flag in right centerfield and one of them attempted to set it aflame. Monday, seeing the significance of what was about to transpire, ran toward them while Dodger’s 3rd base coach Tommy Lasorda dashed from his position toward the scene. Monday got to the flag just in time to scoop it up before any fire touched the red, white and blue. The two protesters were escorted off the field and the flag was saved. Rick Monday is a legend because of what happened that day. His baseball career is memorable but even if he never played another inning he will forever be known for his quick actions on this sunny, spring day at Chavez Ravine. However, the protesters and the cause that propelled them to desecrate America’s most beloved symbol has been lost to history and that is why Rick Monday’s play still matters today.

Flag burning has been used as a form of dissent around the world for centuries. It became a popular form of dissent in this country as protests increased in tone and substance against the Vietnam War during the 1960’s and 70’s. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is valid form of free speech and though I personally find it distasteful, I agree with the Court that flag burning is an acceptable form of dissent and falls firmly within everyone’s right to free speech. However, stopping flag burning belongs equally to those who wish to express their right to disagree with the flag burners. It is free speech too.

We must never forget that every decision we make has consequences so even though one may have the right to do something the resulting consequences may not make it prudent. Such is the case with flag desecration. The American flag is a potent symbol in this country. It is a symbol of freedom that lures people from throughout the world. American flags fly all over this country at businesses, sporting events, government buildings and people’s homes. You don’t see that anywhere else in the world so when it is desecrated in any way there are bound to be repercussions by those who are offended. In the case of Rick Monday, he was able to rescue the flag from burning and is considered a hero to this day while the protesters were prosecuted and promptly forgotten.

It seems that flag desecration has made a bit of a comeback in recent years. I recall the members of Occupy Wall Street and their flag desecration antics that included burning and standing on it but for the life of me I don’t recall what they were protesting about. Whatever it was seems not to have been very important because the occupiers have moved on to something else. I suppose they finally found jobs and couldn’t just hang around Central Park all day long. I do remember the people who picked up the flags and tried to stop the burning and their expressions of pain in seeing that our nation’s symbol was being treated with such contempt. Those people’s action remain firmly in my mind.

More recently, I have seen supporters of certain political candidates and causes lay the flag down and walk on it like it was garbage. What they don’t realize is that those candidates and those causes will fade from memory very soon, maybe sooner than they think, but the power and the significance of Old Glory will live on. The memory of wounded vets picking up those flags and carrying them around their shoulders and schooling these kids on the sacrifices that have been made so that they can do what they do will, like Rick Monday’s action that spring day, remain in America’s psyche forever.




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