Rick Monday Reclaims the American Flag, April 25, 1976

Ed Morrissey at highlighted today an event so touching and so important that it’s a shame so many have forgotten it – or never heard about it in the first place.

As HA puts it, “Thirty-two years later, it’s still a great play”:

In 1976, a sense of ennui had gripped the nation. In a year-long bicentennial celebration, many wondered if the economic stagnation that had lasted all decade meant that America’s best years were in the rear-view mirror. The commercialized bicentennial festivities felt forced and false. It seemed that pride in our country had dissipated into cynicism and retreat.

During a game at Dodger Stadium, two protesters ran on the field, knelt down and poured lighter fluid on the American flag with the intention of burning it. As Monday testified, the wind blew the first match out – and as they were about to touch the second match to the flag, Monday came from behind, snatched it and ran it to safety.

Here’s a video of Monday’s rescue and interviews with Monday, Dodger Steve Garvey and Dodger Tommy Lasorda, who was LA’s Third Base Coach at the time. Lasorda was also on a mission to get the flag, but Monday got there first. [RSS readers, click here to watch the video].

The scoreboard flashed “You made a great play Rick Monday,” and the crowd of 40,000 began an unprompted rendition of God Bless America.

Rick Monday was a solid player who played almost 2,000 games over a 19-year career in Major League Baseball. He’s remembered for his iconic defense of the flag, but he should be proud of the way he played in that 1976 season, too.

I took a baseball history class with the late William Gienapp. The scope of the course was from the game’s beginnings to Flood v. Kuhn [1972] and its consequences, but Professor Gienapp took time out to touch on Rick Monday’s flag-saving.

It was the first time many in the room had heard of it.

23 Responses to “Rick Monday Reclaims the American Flag, April 25, 1976”

  1. Goodness, that’s the first time I’ve heard of it and I’m old enough to remember it. Granted, I was a kid at the time…

    I wish more stories like that were around for these current times.

  2. Donald Austel says:

    this is great and I would love to have copy of poster of Rick Monday saving our flag to have in my office to show everone what a hero looks like…that is what a true baseball hero and a great American is to do and should be shown every chance we get…….thank you Rick…thank you

  3. Donald,

    I’d love to find a poster or print for sale – a few people have asked about it and I have yet to see one. As soon as I find one, I’ll highlight it. I can’t imagine too many better prints to display.

  4. Anthony says:

    Has there been any luck in finding a print of the event? Obviously Monday has one, I’d love to get a hold of a great print like that and show my people at work what true bravery and heroism looks like. This is a difficult picture to find and that surprises me. I’ve never seen a man look at the picture and say something negative. Its a moving piece of history that makes everyone take pause.

  5. walt says:

    seen this video before, but the one thing that stands out is that there is no record of who the two (who tried to burn the flag) were. anyone know?

  6. WW Knox II says:

    I would like a copy of the picture,, have one of his baseballs,, and his book,, need the pic,, 11×14 or so for mounting,, need some help here,, thanks ,, WW.

  7. Keith says:

    Rick, I was serving our Country in the U.S.Army at that time, overseas in Germany, and I wanted to thank you for your Honor and Patriotism to our Flag and Country.
    Thank you,

  8. Snowmakker says:

    In the bottom of the fourth inning, 37-year-old William Errol Morris and his 11-year-old son suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the Dodger Stadium outfield with a flag and some lighter fluid. To this day, I had always wondered why, and baseball researcher Bob Timmermann found me a newspaper clip to explain it. “The man who tried to burn the American Flag at Dodger Stadium was attempting to draw attention to what he claims is his wife’s imprisonment in a Missouri mental institution, authorities say,” wrote the Los Angeles Times on April 30.
    The incident has always been painted as a protest against the country, but by this evidence it seems there was something more eccentric at work – which frankly fits with the story I’m trying to tell. In any case, Monday’s response to the attempted flag-burning, in the nation’s bicentennial year, won national acclaim.

  9. Jaye Austen says:

    I too would like to purchase a print of this event. Someone needs to rejuvenate this ……..and get a poster made………..please

  10. Sharon says:

    I am also looking for the Rick Monday poster and would like any information available to obtain. Thanks very much

  11. Jim says:

    Couldn’t agree more…this print would be every American sport fan’s dream to have in their room. Thanks a lot Rick!!!

  12. Dennis says:

    Anybody know where to get a print? i cant find it anywhere,

  13. Heather says:

    My name is Heather and my dad is selling a poster picture of this historic event. My dad is EX LAPD and was working the stadium that day. He has a framed poster of the event and it is signed by Rick Monday and the officer that booked the 2 felons. Please let me know if you are interested.
    Regards, Heather

  14. Justine says:

    Hi Heather,

    I am interested in purchasing the framed poster. Can you email me a picture and send me pricing information? I know someone who would treasure this print. Thank you.


  15. Justine says:

    Hi Heather,

    I may be interested in buying the poster for a Christmas gift for my boyfriend who has been searching for that print. Can you please email a picture and pricing to: ?

    Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you soon!


  16. Doug says:


    I am interested in the Rick Monday poster as well. Can you send me a picture of it?

    Thank you


  17. L says:

    Was anyone successful in finding the print? Please let me know.

  18. jack monahan says:

    Can you tell me if charges against 37-year-old William Errol Morris were filled?



  19. Lisa says:

    Heather, could I still get a poster of the Rick Monday picture? Thanks, Lisa

  20. Eileen says:

    Rick Monday is a true hero. He makes me proud to be an American! It is by far, the greatest moment in baseball.

  21. Jack says:

    You can find them on ebay or simply putting Rick Monday in a google search. What I want is a “signed” copy. Does anyone know how to get Rick Monday’s signature?


    I was a coach with the Cubs and on the bench when this happened.
    They talk about his saving the flag more than his playing career,
    but he was a great ball player that had all the tools. Another great thing was he was one of the finest men I have ever been associated with. Knowing that, you understand his saving the flag like he did and endangering himself and his career.

  23. Bruce Becker says:

    April 25th 1976 Rick Monday made the greatest play in baseball. Thank you Rick Monday.


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