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40 Years Ago Today, Rick Monday Saved An American Flag

The Cubs outfielder created one of the most memorable moments of the 1970s at a ballpark, and it wasn't even about baseball.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sunday, April 25, 1976 began as an ordinary day at Dodger Stadium. The Cubs, who would wind up with their second straight 87-loss season, entered the day with a 6-7 record; the Dodgers, who eventually finished second in the N.L. West with 92 wins, were 4-9.

It was a completely ordinary game; the Cubs came from behind in the eighth inning to tie the contest only to lose in extra innings, 5-4.

But it was what happened in the Dodger Stadium outfield in the fourth inning that day that will make this particular game forever remembered. Richard Dozer, recapping that day's game in the Tribune, described Monday's save:

Monday explained his role in the chase for the flag with more clarity than anything else discussed in the clubhouse.

”I saw these clowns come out on the field, and I didn’t know what they were doing. I thought they were just out there to prance around,” he recalled.

”But then they spread the flag out like a picnic blanket. I was just going to run them over until I saw them with the can of lighter fluid. I could see they were going to try to burn it.”

After Monday raced in front of left fielder [Jose] Cardenal and grabbed the flag, he gave it to a security man. The demonstrators were taken to a nearby police station. It was reported they were American Indians, and one of them said something about “squatters” taking over the country. This could not be verified.

One was identified as William Thomas, 37. He gave Eldon, Mo. as his hometown. The other was not identified because police said he was a juvenile, but was reportedly Thomas’ 11-year-old son.

A few days later, the Los Angeles Times reported that Thomas had done this to call attention to what he claimed was his wife's "imprisonment" in a Missouri mental institution. In researching this article, I tried to find information on Thomas and his son, but none appears to be available, even whether either is still living.

The actual flag Monday saved is shown in the photo at the top of this post, at an event Monday attended in 2006. Three years ago, the Dodgers issued a bobblehead commemorating this event, complete with cloth flag:

rick monday bobblehead

I wasn't in Los Angeles for this giveaway, but as many of you know, I collect bobbleheads. Had to have that one, so I bought one via eBay. The photo above is of my actual bobblehead.

A final note on this: I am posting this today simply to note the 40th anniversary of this event, a notable event in Cubs and baseball history. It obviously can have political implications. I make no comment on that and remind everyone here of the site rules prohibiting political comments. Thanks in advance for keeping the comments here related to baseball.