Some debate whether baseball is still America’s past time. The answer is: Does it matter? Baseball might not be America’s past time, but it is still America’s darling. It’s a living, breathing icon. It’s a game of unity, camaraderie and passion. People watch because of nostalgia, because it’s a way to connect with fathers, brothers or sports-obsessed spouses. They watch because it’s a release. They watch because in some way baseball still represents an idea about America, whatever that idea may be.
On April 25, 1976, thirty-five years ago to this day, two protestors tried to tarnish that idea. In fact, they tried to burn it. During the middle of a Cubs-Dodgers game at Dodgers Stadium, a father and son ran onto the field with a flag soaked in lighter fluid and tried to set it ablaze. Quickest to act and closest to the perpetrators, Cubs outfielder Rick Monday, a military veteran himself from before his playing days, swooped in and snatched the flag from beneath the potential vandals. He saved the flag and the protesters were arrested.
Monday’s act, which he has talked about at length in the years since, was a moment of thoughtful patriotism that will forever be celebrated by baseball historians, fans and patriots around the nation. Some players are unfairly defined by solitary moments in their playing careers. Monday is certainly one of those players, but the current Dodgers broadcaster shouldn’t be too upset about that. He might not be remembered by the collective baseball fan as being a great player, but he will certainly be remembered as a great patriot.
For more on this story in Monday’s own words, check out the link to the video here.