Originally created 07/04/06

Remembering Monday's save on July 4



Rick Monday doesn't remember the score, or who won the game. He can't tell you how many hits he got that day at Dodger Stadium.

The other details of a Sunday afternoon 30 years ago, though, are forever seared into his memory.

The commotion from left field in the bottom of the fourth inning. The sight of two men carrying something running toward left center field.

A glint of sunlight off a can. Someone striking a match.

And, finally, fans standing as one to sing God Bless America.

"I had goose bumps upon goose bumps 30 years ago when I did it, and I still get them when I recap the story 30 years later," Monday says.

What Monday did was race in from behind and snatch an American flag carried by the men just as they were about to burn it in protest on the pristine grass of the outfield.

Had it been another time, it might quickly have been forgotten. But it was the year of the Bicentennial, and the country was trying to come together after the long war in Vietnam and the Watergate crisis that brought down a president.

Now, three decades later, Monday's running grab lives on as not only one of the greatest saves in baseball history, but an iconic moment that transcends the sport itself.

"There are those who become involved and those who wait for someone to become involved," Monday said. "It comes down to a very simple matter of what is right."

The same flag returns to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since Monday carried it off the field on April 25, 1976. The Fourth of July celebration is the culmination of a trip across the country with a group of some 200 motorcyclists called the Patriot Guard Riders spearheaded by Monday's wife, Barbaralee.

There will be a pregame ceremony honoring Monday's rescue, which was recently named one of the 100 greatest moments in the game by the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and likely some grainy video of the incident on the scoreboard for fans to enjoy.

If they're really lucky, they will hear Vin Scully's call of the moment.

"Wait a minute, there's an animal loose. Two of them! I'm not sure what he's doing out there. It looks like he's going to burn a flag," Scully says.

"And Rick Monday runs and takes it away from him!"