By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine
What will be your claim to fame? What do you want it to be? We all have ideas about what we would like to be known for but the truth is we seldom have a choice. Many are known for a particular talent we have, an event we are a part of or a folly we willingly or unwillingly participate in. Past Presidents with high hopes and expectations have left behind their defining moments of scandals, program failures and questioned conflicts. I am sure it isn’t what they had in mind but again we can’t always choose.
Rick Monday played 18 years of Major League Baseball. Rick Monday was an Arkansas born, California raised player that was fortunate to have the years and the success he had. Today he is a sports announcer and still active in the game in many ways. I am sure that Rick, like most Major Leaguers, had dreams of being remembered as a great left hander with a .264 batting average, 241 home runs and 775 runs batted in. He was twice chosen as an All-Star 1968 and 1978, and was a World Champion on the 1981 World Champion LA Dodgers team. But there were two events that defined his career. These are known as “The American Flag Incident” and the second was “Blue Monday”
“Blue Monday” came about as he was playing for the LA Dodgers in 1981 during the National League Championship Series against the Montreal Expos. There had been an earlier rain delay and the deciding game was played on Monday afternoon. Rick Monday hit a ninth inning, 2 out, 2 run homer that made the difference in a LA victory. This dashed the hopes of the Expos only chance at a Pennant in their 36 years in the National League representing Montreal. Expos fans today still refer to the 5th game in that NLCS as “Blue Monday”.
The Dodgers went on to beat the Yankees 4 games to 2 to win the 1981 World Series. Years later in a Canadian documentary he told the story of being held up at Dorval Airport by Canadian immigration officers. He missed his connecting flight. When he inquired about the reason, the officer asked if he was the former Dodger player, and smiled.
“The American Flag Incident” occurred in 1976. Monday was with the Cubs and was experiencing the finest year of his career. In a game at Dodger’s Stadium on April 25th in the first two protestors came onto the field to burn an American Flag. They had doused it with lighter fluid and their first attempt failed. Just as they were about to strike their second match Rick Monday came dashing out of nowhere and snatched up the flag. Monday, a US military Marine Corp Reserve later said, “If you are going to burn the flag don’t do it around me.” At Monday’s next at bat the crowd gave him a standing ovation and on the large board was, “RICK MONDAY…YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY…”
On September 2, 2008 during the Dodgers game, Monday was presented with a Peace One Earth medallion by Patricia Kennedy, founder of the non-profit organization Step up 4 Vets, for his actions on April 25th, 1976. The flag is in Monday’s possession and Monday has been offered as much as one million dollars for it.
Just as your parents chose the perfect name for you, then your friends decided you would be better suited called by a nickname some not so kind, your fame may also be at the choosing of others. Rick Monday’s career defining moments, chosen by baseball, were great ones.
We at Southern Writers Magazine hope your defining moments are chosen and recognized as edifying to you and your career. I do know any recognition received from Southern Writers Magazine will be positive and career building.