A lot of baseball fans know the basics of the story. Rick Monday, then the center fielder for the Chicago Cubs, was playing the Dodgers in Los Angeles on April 25, 1976. Forty years ago today. Two fans rushed out from the stands, knelt down in the outfield and attempted to set fire to an American flag they had with them. Monday, a member of the Marine Corps Reserve and a patriot, rushed over and snatched the flag away, saving it from destruction.
That alone makes for a pretty cool story. Monday may be just as famous for that as he is for his fine playing career and years as a Dodgers broadcaster. But as is so often the case, there is more to the story than just its most famous angle.
Over at Vice Sports, David Davis digs deeper into the Rick Monday flag rescue. He talks to Monday, who explains what was motivating him and why, to this day, the incident still irks him. He researched and explored the story of the man who took the iconic photograph of the incident and talks about his strange and tragic life. He attempted to interview the man who, along with this 11-year-old son, tried to burn the flag, but they weren’t talking. He did, however, find out more about their life, also sad in some ways, than we’ve previously known.
America in the mid-1970s was a country entering a midlife crisis. And when someone is having a midlife crisis, strange things can happen. Many years later, however, you can look back and see it all a bit more clearly. This is a very good look in that regard.