Thursday, October 29, 2009

1976 Topps #251 - Rick Monday

  • As the back of this card says, Rick Monday was the first player drafted (by the Kansas City A's) in the first Free Agent Draft in 1965. It didn't take him long to make it to the majors. After a good 1966 season in AA Mobile (.267, 23 HR, 89 BB), Monday was brought up to the majors for a September look-see. Rick batted .098 in 41 AB, but he was in the big leagues to stay.

  • Monday became the A's starting center fielder in 1967. He batted .251 with 14 HR and 58 RBI. In 1968 Rick made the AL All Star team and batted .274 with eight HR and 49 RBI. During his career Monday had a propensity to strike out, but he also drew a lot of walks and usually had on-base percentages in the upper .300s. Here is an October 1968 Baseball Digest article about Rick - Always on Monday.

  • Rick had similar seasons in 1969, 1970, and 1971. He apparently tried to hit more home runs in '71 -- he hit a then-career-high 18 homers, but his on-base percentage slipped to .335. After the 1971 season Rick was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Ken Holtzman.

  • After he came to the Cubs Rick got more playing time. In his five years in Chicago he played between 136 and 148 games each year. After having a so-so year in 1972 (.249, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 68 runs scored), Monday had a string of four nice years for the Cubs. He scored at least 84 runs in each of those years and hit over 20 HR in three of those four seasons. Here is a Baseball Digest about Rick (August 1975 Baseball Digest - Rick Monday: New Leadership for the Cubs). His best year for the Cubs was probably 1976 when he batted .272, hit 32 HR, and scored 107 runs.

  • After the 1976 season he was traded with Mike Garman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus, and a minor leaguer. Rick's stats weren't all that great for the Dodgers, but he was credited with helping to stabilize the Dodgers' outfield (April 1977 Baseball Digest - Rick Monday: A Touch of Class for the Dodgers). In 1977 Rick batted .230 with 15 HR and 48 RBI. He started off well in 1978 (.333 with 11 HR at the end of May) and was named to the NL All Star team but he tailed off as the season wore on and ended up batting .254 with 19 HR and 57 RBI.

  • In 1979 Rick was off to a good start but was injured and didn't play after May 7. He batted .303 in his limited time (12 games) in a season where a lot of things went wrong for the Dodgers.
  • His chronic bad back forced Monday into a reserve role for the remainder of his career. In 1980 he batted .268 with 10 HR in 96 games. Used mostly as a pinch hitter in 1981, Rick had a career-high in batting average (.315) and homered 11 times in 210 at bats. He also hit a very famous home run that helped put the Dodgers into the World Series (discussed later).
  • Rick continued to be used as a pinch hitter/backup outfielder in 1982 (.257 in 210 at bats) and in 1983 (.247 in 178 at bats). He started off batting .191 in 47 at bats and was released on June 20, 1984.

  • After his playing career Monday became a sports anchor for KTTV in Los Angeles in 1985 and did some broadcasting for the Dodgers. Rick did television and radio play-by-play for the San Diego Padres from 1989-1992, then rejoined the Dodgers in 1993 as a radio broadcaster and pre-game show host. Monday has been at that job ever since.

Monday had two moments that made him famous:

  • The first was when he rescued an American flag from being burned in center field at Dodger Stadium in 1976.

  • The second was when he hit the game-winning home run in game 5 of the National League Championship Series in 1981. Actually, it was in the top of the 9th inning and the Dodger bullpen held the lead in the bottom of the inning). I remember watching the game in my sophomore English class--I think I was the only one in the room who wasn't rooting for the Dodgers. :(

  • Liked to face: Tom Seaver (.349 with 11 HR in 86 AB); Bob Forsch (.351 in 57 AB); Dick Ruthven (.408 with 7 HR in 49 AB)

  • Hated to face: Steve Rogers (.176 with 26 strikeouts in 74 AB); J. R. Richard (.125 with 20 strikeouts in 48 AB); Jim Perry (.186 in 43 AB)


  1. Sometimes I wonder what his stats were over the course of his career when he played on a Monday.

  2. He was a disappointment to me as a Dodger fan. Never had a full good season for the Dodgers. But that home run made up for everything. I like him.

  3. One of my great thrills was interviewing Monday in LA a couple years ago. What a class act. To do that interview, after watching him in Chicago as I grew up, really will always be a great memory!