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Greatest moments in Dodger history, No. 18: Rick Monday saves the flag

Rick Monday saves the flag

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the greatest moment countdown continues

I’m assuming everyone knows how this works by now, so I’m going to drop the explanatory introduction to these. If you need a reminder, click on any of the Nos. 20-25 greatest moments below.

Up next is the only greatest moment on the list that does not involve a member of the Dodgers. But he went on the be a valuable member of the team.

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No. 18: Rick Monday saves the flag (5,412 points)

Rick Monday saves the flag
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Watch Rick Monday save the flag

On April 25, 1976, Rick Monday was playing center field for the Chicago Cubs against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. At one point during the game, two men ran onto the field and ... well, let’s allow Monday to recount the moment in his own words:

“In between the top and bottom of the fourth inning, I was just getting loose in the outfield, throwing the ball back and forth. Jose Cardenal was in left field and I was in center. I don’t know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two people ran on the field. After a number of years of playing, when someone comes on the field, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Is it because they’re trying to win a bet? Is it because they don’t like you or do they have a message that they’re trying to present?

“When these two guys ran on the field, something wasn’t right. And it wasn’t right from the standpoint that one of them had something cradled under his arm. It turned out to be an American flag. They came from the left-field corner, went past Cardenal to shallow left-center field.

“That’s when I saw the flag. They unfurled it as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to pay homage but to harm it as one of the guys was pulling out of his pocket somewhere a big can of lighter fluid. He began to douse it.

“What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it’s wrong now. ... It’s the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corps Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented.

“So I started to run after them. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad, I was angry and it was wrong for a lot of reasons.

“Then the wind blew the first match out. There was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium. The second match was lit, just as I got there. I did think that if I could bowl them over, they can’t do what they’re trying to do.

“I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It’s soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can’t light it if they don’t have it. So I just scooped it up.

“My first thought was, ‘Is this on fire?’ Well, fortunately, it was not. I continue to run. One of the men threw the can of lighter fluid at me. We found out he was not a prospect. He did not have a good arm. Thank goodness.

“After the guys left, there was a buzz in the stands, people being aghast with what had taken place. Without being prompted, and I don’t know where it started, but people began to sing ‘God Bless America.’ When I reflect back upon it now, I still get goose bumps.”

Later that year, Monday was presented with the flag by the Dodgers, who traded for him during the off-season. He still has it hanging in his home.

Previous greatest moments

No. 19: Winning the 1988 World Series

No. 20: Winning the 1959 World Series

No. 21: Sandy Amorós’ catch in 1955 World Series

No. 22: Cody Bellinger’s catch in 2020 NLDS

No. 23: Justin Turner’s walkoff homer in 2017 NLCS

No. 24: Sandy Koufax strikes out 15 in 1963 World Series Game 1

No. 25: Mike Scioscia’s 1988 NLCS homer

Dodgers make some cuts

The Dodgers sent some people to the minors on Monday. No surprises, and there are still plenty of cuts to be made:

Players on the 40-man roster optioned out were: Catcher Keibert Ruiz, outfielders Zack Reks and Luke Raley and pitchers Alex Vesia, Gerardo Carrillo, Andre Jackson and Edwin Uceta.

Players not on the 40-man roster who were reassigned to minor league camp were:

Catcher Hunter Feduccia, infielders Jacob Amaya, Michael Busch, Omar Estevez, Kody Hoese, Devin Mann, Leonel Valera and Miguel Vargas, outfielders Ryan Noda, James Outman and Andy Pages and pitchers Josiah Gray, Michael Grove, Landon Knack, Nolan Long, Jose Martinez, Bobby Miller, Robinson Ortiz, Ryan Pepiot, Gus Varland and Kendall Williams.

There are 45 players in major league camp right now, 26 of which will make the opening day roster.

And finally

A great Vitalis commercial featuring Don Drysdale. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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