Seven days to Opening Day and a quick look back the number seven in Cub lore nets quite the eclectic range of players and personalities over the years. There was a guy who needed to buy a vowel – Joe Kmak in 1995. A guy who’s name sounds like the name of a really good Italian restaurant – Dom Dallessandro in 1942. There was also a “Moose” (‘Moose’ Moryn 1958-60) and a coach named after a cartoon strip – Peanuts Lowery in 1970 and 1971.
But, how about the catcher who had a song written about him – by Harry Caray nonetheless? Or about the guy named after a day of the week?
“Jo-Dee…Jody Davis…Catcher without a fear…” were the fantastical lyrics written by the beloved Cubs broadcaster, sang when Davis would come to the plate in a big spot. Davis wasn’t the most well-known guy outside of Cub Nation, but for a while he was quite the serviceable and productive catcher. Ryne Sandberg may have won the NL MVP in 1984, but Davis finished tenth in the voting. He averaged about 20 home runs a season with the Cubs from 1981-87 , then got shipped home to Atlanta to finish his career with his hometown Braves. In 1984, he was about as clutch as could be. His grand slam in early September to beat the Mets at Wrigley Field was the shot that made Cub Nation know we had a division title to look forward to in the coming weeks.
How about Rick Monday? Most remember his playing days with the Dodgers, because that’s when most saw him on the national stage in the World Series and playoffs year after year with Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and the like. Some forget that not only did he have his most productive years with the Cubs, but he did something on a field that no other player has ever done, or has been forced to do, maybe ever.
April 25, 1976, Dodger Stadium was the site. In fact, type in “Rick Monday” into Google and see what pops up. It’s not “stats” or “Dodgers”. It’s “Rick Monday Saves Flag”. Check it out sometime, it’s something to behold.
Bright sunshine on a gorgeous day at Dodger Stadium and two kids come running out of the stands to everyone’s consternation. Vin Scully on the call, “I have no idea what these two are doing. Oh my, they are going to set fire to the American flag!” That’s when Rick Monday made the best play of his career. Monday swooped in and saved the flag from being burned and the two scoundrels were arrested and taken off the field. I have no idea what happened to the two blasphemous losers who were going to burn the flag, but we do know that Rick Monday went on to have a nice career.
Monday won a World Series with the Dodgers in 1981 and played in many other postseasons – always contributing. He played 19 seasons, five of which were for the Cubs. Those five seasons in Chicago were his most productive – hitting higher than with any other team, while hitting more home runs and driving in more runs than he did at any other stop in his long career.
He played in two All-Star games and never won a Gold Glove. No problem there. Because, Rick Monday will always be an American All-Star – and he made no better play in his career than the one he made without his glove in April of 1976.