Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear Cubbie blue.
On April 25, 1976, Cubs outfielder Rick Monday made the play of the game.
And it was for something that doesn’t show up in the box score.
That afternoon, the Cubs were playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In the fourth inning, two people, a father and his 11-year old son, ran onto the field, put the American flag on the ground in shallow left-center, and doused it in lighter fluid. Their first attempt to start a fire was blown out by the wind. They tried again, but before the flag could catch on fire, Monday, who was playing center field, swooped in and took the flag away from the protesters.
Monday ran over to the third base dugout and handed the flag to one of the Dodgers players. The crowd was quiet as security escorted the protesters off the field, but then a group of fans started singing “God Bless America”, and soon the entire stadium joined in.
When Monday came to bat in the top of the fifth, he received a standing ovation from the Los Angeles crowd, and the scoreboard flashed the message “Rick Monday…. You made a great play.”
Monday, who spent six years in the Marine Corps Reserves, asked to keep the flag. And in the years since, he has taken the flag around the country, and in the process raised over $500,000 for military charities.
Monday had a notable baseball career. He was the first overall pick in the 1965 draft. He spent 19 seasons in the majors (five with the Cubs), was a two-time All-Star and was part of the 1981 Dodgers team that won the World Series. But he will always be best known for saving the flag.
And he is perfectly fine with that.
“What happened in my playing career will take care of itself,” Monday told MLB.com on the 40th anniversary of the event. “The flag represents the rights and freedoms we all enjoy in this country.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.