By Jeff Munn
Instinct is a powerful thing.
Imagine what flashed through Rick Monday’s mind 40 years ago, as he was in the outfield for
the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium when two men jumped onto that same outfield and attempted to light the American flag on fire in a protest.
Did he even have a split second to consider what was happening?
In moments like that, instinct takes over. It says something about Monday’s priorities that running over to snatch the flag before it was set ablaze was done literally all on reflex.
It also says something that Monday only uses that moment as a platform to honor the military and champion flag-related causes. His alma mater, Arizona State, honors him Tuesday night, not for the College World Series championship he was a part of, not for being baseball’s first number one overall draft pick, but for a moment when his instincts told him something was wrong, and he needed to act.
Forty years later, Rick Monday, now a Dodger radio broadcaster, remains reluctant to take undue credit for that event in 1976 preferring to keep it as he views it – an American showing his love for his country by keeping its greatest symbol from being tarnished. It was all in a split second. All done on instinct.