LOS ANGELES -- Rick Monday is a well-known Dodger for several reasons, but ironically, his most iconic moment involving the organization happened while he was playing not for them, but as an opponent.Monday was a 30-year-old outfielder for the Cubs in 1976 when he made his now infamous dash toward
LOS ANGELES -- Rick Monday is a well-known Dodger for several reasons, but ironically, his most iconic moment involving the organization happened while he was playing not for them, but as an opponent.
Monday was a 30-year-old outfielder for the Cubs in 1976 when he made his now infamous dash toward two protesters who had snuck onto the field at Dodger Stadium intending to burn an American flag. Monday snatched the flag from the protesters and ran off with it, unwittingly creating a lasting image that remains his most identifiable legacy.
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Monday had plenty of significant moments as a Dodger, too -- he's in his 24th year as a Dodgers radio broadcaster -- making him a natural selection for the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 3 of the National League Championship Series between the Cubs and Dodgers on Tuesday, a 6-0 Los Angeles win that gives the Dodgers a 2-1 series lead.
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Whether it's his patriotic flag-saving moment in the same year as the country's bicentennial celebration or his postseason-saving moment five years later, Monday is a popular choice to be part of the October pageantry.
Even if he is a bit modest about it all.
"Evidently, everybody was sick or out of town," Monday joked.
Monday is accustomed to being asked about the flag incident. This year was the 40th anniversary of that moment, so it's been even more of a topic of conversation than in years past. In addition, current events involving professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem to protest social issues have been a front-burner issues.
Monday said that his stance on the matter has not changed at all from the time he was raised to the minute he saved the flag to now. He doesn't agree with the protests.
"You disrespect those that have stood up for it and represent the rights and freedoms that all of us have," Monday said.
Monday was recently asked about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem, sparking a national debate.
"And I said, my concern is not with him sitting down, my concern is, what's he going to do once he stands up?" Monday said. "Why not do it in a positive sense instead of a negative? To me, a positive attracts people. Negative kind of turns people off. I'm going to watch what he does when he finally stands up."
Monday has experience with the positive side of protesting. He's had the flag from that 1976 Dodgers-Cubs game in his possession for the past 40 years, and he and his wife, Barbaralee, have taken it around the country to raise money for military charities.
Several years ago, Barbaralee Monday did a cross-country trip, visiting 14 states in 14 days, with the flag.
"The very symbol those guys were trying to desecrate that afternoon still has a life," Monday said of the protests in 1976. "She's raised a great deal of money for military charities. We've taken the flag to veterans' hospitals."
From a pure baseball standpoint, Monday has carved out his spot in the Dodgers' rich history, too.
His home run in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS in Montreal sent the Dodgers to the World Series. It also made him an unwelcome guest in Montreal the following season, as he discovered while attempting to grab a bite to eat with his teammate (and Tuesday's first-pitch catcher) Steve Yeager.
He and Yeager were having a beverage when the manager of the restaurant asked the two to leave, saying, "I don't want any fights in here."
Monday and Yeager, confused, told the manager they were not looking to fight -- "We came in to have dinner."
"I'm not worried about you," the manager told them. "But there's six guys in here that want to kick your [tail]."
The pregame ceremony at Dodger Stadium began with all five branches of the military -- U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard -- unfurling a giant flag on the field before the national anthem.
Conjunction Entertainment Gospel recording artist Keith Williams Jr., who also performed prior to NLDS Game 4, performed the national anthem.
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.