The old flag made it back to Dodger Stadium. The flag was tattered, its colors faded, but its relevance was not. It was the flag that Rick Monday rescued from the two men that tried to light it afire in the Dodger Stadium outfield 40 years ago Monday.
Monday displayed the flag at the ballpark and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to mark the anniversary. The Dodgers presented him with the flag in 1976, and since then he and his wife Barbaralee have traveled the country with it and he has posed for countless pictures with it, all as a way to raise funds for organizations that help soldiers and their families.
“Long after I’m gone, this is something my family will continue to do. We’ve had great response all around this country.”
Monday, 70, said he has declined a $1-million offer for the flag, as well as a request from the Baseball Hall of Fame to display it there.
For nearly a decade after he rescued the flag, Monday said the only evidence he had was the radio call by Vin Scully.
“To this day, when I hear Vinny’s call, I still get goose bumps,” Monday said. “I listened to Vin in Santa Monica growing up.”
In 1984, a television executive asked Monday if he had seen a video of the event.
“Seen it?” he said. “I didn’t even know it existed.”
The executive sent a copy to Monday’s home that afternoon.
Monday was the first player selected in the first amateur draft in 1965 and he enjoyed a 19-year major league career, including two All-Star appearances and a World Series title with the 1981 Dodgers. He said he probably is better known for that one afternoon, and that one swipe of the flag.
“What I did that afternoon, I just spoke for the people that I know in this country that love this country and didn’t like what those people were trying to do,” Monday said. “To me, it was a slap in the face to anyone that has ever put on a military uniform, and to their families.”
Did he think about what to do that day, or did he just act out of instinct?
“You don’t have to think about something if it’s right and wrong,” he said.
Manager Dave Roberts said outfielder Scott Van Slyke, on the disabled list since April 12 because of lower-back tightness, cannot yet do baseball activities but is strengthening his core muscles.
“He’s still in Glendale, I guess rehabbing,” Roberts said. “You would think he’s getting better.”
The Dodgers gave Adrian Gonzalez his first day off this season, as part of a lineup without a left-handed batter against Miami Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Chase Utley also did not start. … The Dodgers plan to activate outfielder Carl Crawford on Tuesday. They reinstated reliever Louis Coleman from the bereavement list and returned reliever Luis Avilan to triple-A Oklahoma City.