BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona State Baseball team will honor one of its all-time greats in a few weeks, and for good reason.
It was April 25, 1976. Rick Monday was a centerfielder for the Chicago Cubs, and they were taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium during the United States Bicentennial. During the game, a pair of protestors ran onto the playing field in the fourth inning with matches, lighter fluid and an American flag. They were going to destroy the flag by lighting it on fire, but Monday – a former active duty Marine – jumped in and grabbed the flag before it could be destroyed.
Because of Monday’s act of heroism that day, adidas and Sun Devil Baseball will honor him at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on April 26, when the Sun Devils take on the Arizona Wildcats.
“I am extremely humbled and proud that Arizona State Sun Devil Baseball has elected to wear a special uniform depicting the exact moment when I was able to stop two individuals attempting to desecrate the very symbol that represents the rights and freedoms we all enjoy in this great country of ours…the American Flag,” Monday said. “My thanks and best wishes to coach Tracy Smith and the entire Sun Devil Baseball team. The uniform you wear on this special day represents more than that Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium many years ago: it represents all of us who have been privileged to say we are from Arizona State University!”
A cool thing the team will do that evening is unveil commemorative uniforms from Arizona State’s 1965 National Championship team, which Monday was a part of. They’ll also have a poster giveaway, a special pregame ceremony and much, much more.
The adidas Baseball retro uniform will feature classic pinstriping with descending ASU lettering on the chest, and a special commemorative Rick Monday patch on the arm sleeve. Going even further than that, the TECHFIT baselayer features a photo realistic image of Monday and the U.S. flag on the chest, fused with a Stars and Stripes themed graphic on the back.
The jerseys, hats and tees with the base layer graphic will be available to buy on approximately April 13.
“Rick Monday is a pillar of this program and honoring those who forged Arizona State baseball’s storied legacy has been an important part of my time at ASU so far,” said Arizona State head coach Tracy Smith. “A national champion in college, a man of service, the first-ever MLB draft pick, and World Series Champion – I can’t think of a better person for our current student-athletes to emulate than Rick.”
Monday only played for the Sun Devils for the 1965 season, but he was key in Arizona State earning its first national championship. Monday was named The Sporting News National Player of the Year, as he had a .359 batting average to go along with 11 home runs, with two of them coming in the College World Series. Monday was the first-ever player drafted in Major League Baseball, as he went No. 1 overall to the Kansas City A’s in the first MLB Amateur Draft in 1965. Monday played 19 seasons in the Majors, and was a two-time All-Star and won a World Series in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Monday’s on-field heroics have been recognized by a wide range of people and organizations over the past 40 years, including by Congress in 2006, when they passed a Senate resolution honoring Monday for his courage and patriotism. He has also received a number of prestigious awards over the years, including a Presidential Commendation by President Gerald Ford, the United States Marine Corps “Lifetime Achievement Award,” the United States Navy League “Service to Others,” the Military Order of Purple Hearts “Patriotism Award” and the USO Bob Hope Award, among others.