April 26, 2006

COME MONDAY IT'LL BE ALRIGHT (via John Beckwith):

Monday's act heroic after 30 years (Ben Platt, 04/25/2006, MLB.com)

It was 1976, a fun year for America. It was the country's bicentennial, the war in Vietnam had ended a year earlier and everyone really wanted to put all the problems from the 1960s, Watergate and Vietnam behind them and just enjoy the country's yearlong 200th birthday party.

On April 25, the Chicago Cubs were visiting Dodger Stadium for a three-game series. Playing center field for the Cubs was Rick Monday, the first player taken in the amateur draft that was created 11 years earlier. Monday was born and raised in Santa Monica, Calif., so playing in front of his friends and family was always special to him. On this day, fate would hand Monday a moment that people still talk about with reverence 30 years later. Monday recounts 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, in 2006. It's the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp 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.


They also have the game call by Vin Scully, who speaks for every decent American.


Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2006 8:57 PM
Comments

When I'm President my first act will be declaring every April 26th Rick Monday day, a national holiday.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 26, 2006 9:13 PM

Sorry, did I say President? I mean when I seize control as dictator.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 26, 2006 9:28 PM

Looking back at that, one of the amazing things is these guys had time to run a good 60 yards out into the outfield, put down the flag and begin to try and light it, and you see absolutely no security personnel doing anything in a hurry to hustle them off the field. They're just kind of meandering out there by the time Monday's already swooped across to grab up the flag (treating the fans with kid gloves began with the '69 Mets championship celebration, and like other laxities that grew in the 70s, eventually spawned the post-championship fatal riots in places like Detroit and Chicago that reached their peak only about a decade ago). Were those two guys to try the same stunt today, odds are they'd barely get past the warning track before being grabbed by field security crews.

Posted by: John at April 26, 2006 9:42 PM

My Dad always mentions the time a Baltimore Colt absolutely laid out some knucklehead who came onto the field. He smiles when he thinks about it.

Posted by: Pepys at April 26, 2006 9:56 PM

Pepys:

The linebacker was Mike Curtis.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at April 26, 2006 10:07 PM

I'm a big Dodger fan. Back in the early 90s (91 I think) I went to a Dodger/Phillies game at the Vet. Tommy Lasorda is from the Philly area and ususally got a warm welcome there, but not this time.

The Philly Phanatic mascot took a tamping tool from the groundskeeper and squashed a can of SlimFast (a product Tommy endorsed). Everybody laughed. Then the Phanatic took a plastic Dodger hat and shattered it. Tommy wigged out and had to be restrained.

After the game he said that he has only worn 3 uniforms in his life: the Boy Scouts, the US Army and the Dodgers and he'd be damned if they were going to desecrate any one of them. I'm not surprised that he tried to get into it with the flag burners.

Posted by: JAB at April 26, 2006 11:24 PM

Rick Monday's interview is particularly excellent, as he is an articulate guy who has given a lot of thought to what happened that day and to what the flag represents to all the people who personally thanked him for what he did. The personal decency of both Monday and of most Americans comes through clearly in that interview -- be sure to listen to it.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 26, 2006 11:31 PM

So who were the two protestors, and what ever became of them? The article doesn't say.

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 27, 2006 2:17 AM

Papaya:

They were kept in a holding cell in the bowels of Dodger Stadium until Vin Scully finished his broadcast. Then he ripped out their still beating hearts and ate them.

(It's a little known fact that Scully, much like Dick Cheney, in whom he entrusted this secret, stays vital by feasting upon the vital organs of hippie anti-war protestors. As long as the supply doesn't dry up, Scully will still be broadcasting Dodger's games long after we're all in the ground).

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 27, 2006 2:29 AM

"My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves."

The few, the proud, the Cub.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 27, 2006 11:17 AM

Pepys:

A couple of years ago, during the superbowl, a streaker ran out onto the field during a break in play.

He was surprisingly quick, and evaded the security guys in pursuit until a backup lineback for the Patriots, Matt Chatham, got tired of the charade, ran out, and leveled the guy.

In a nice show of responsibility, the TV announcers didn't acknowledge the stunt.

Posted by: Mike Earl at April 27, 2006 12:22 PM

Mike Earl:

Before I was born, my dad and grandfather were attending a College World Series game when some nut, completely naked and brandishing a pink baseball bat, ran along the third baseline and then smacked somebody on the ass as he ran for the outfield wall. The police tackled him before he got away. My grandfather was reportedly close to wetting his pants with laughter.

A lawyer friend of my dad's -- we'll call him Mike -- was later hired as the man's attorney, and during the trial the prosecutor went on about how "offensive" the man's behavior was. Mike turned towards the folks assembled in the courtroom and asked them to please raise their hands if they were in any way offended by what had occurred. Nobody responded. Mike's client was released.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 27, 2006 7:25 PM
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