On this day, a baseball player and a basketball coach stepped out of their roles as athletes to protect the Star Spangled Banner.
In his 19-year career, outfielder Rick Monday made some memorable plays including hitting a home run to send the Dodgers to the World Series in 1981. His greatest play, however, was neither a hit nor an out but a save.
Monday was playing outfield for the Cubs at Dodger Stadium when protesters attempted to burn the American flag. The former Marine, raced to the scene and rescued the flag before it was lit.
I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It’s soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can’t light it if they don’t have it. So I just scooped it up.
Monday’s rescue gained national attention and made him a hero. He still has the flag and takes it with him as he visits military hospitals, parades and charity events raising money and awareness for wounded soldiers.
The Portland Trial Blazers had a contest for the right to sing the Star Spangled Banner at Game 3 of the first round playoff game against Dallas and chose 13-year old Natalie Gilbert. When she faltered as she struggled to remember the words, Trail Blazer coach Maurice Cheeks stepped in and guided her through the words and even sang with her.
From SB Nation:
In one of the most heartwarming moments imaginable, Cheeks and Gilbert sang a duet of the Star-Spangled Banner, with the audience even singing along. By the time they were finished, Cheeks and Gilbert received a rounding ovation from the Portland audience; Cheeks had turned a potentially-devastating moment into something worth remembering.
“He totally saved me, I couldn’t even remember the words. I tried to start over again, but the words wouldn’t come,” Gilbert said. “I was walking off afterward and he said to me ‘Don’t worry kid, everyone has a bad game once in awhile.'”
Portland lost the game 115-103 to fall behind 3-0 in the series which Dallas won in seven games.