In honor of the first day of the 2015 amateur draft, today I’m going to talk about the very first pick of the very first MLB 1965 amateur draft that took place 50 years ago.
The first pick of the 1965 amateur draft was center fielder Rick Monday. Coincindentally (for me) he was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics.
Monday made his MLB debut with the A’s on September 3, 1966. Monday, a left-handed hitter, played with the Athletics for six years and made his first All-Star appearance in 1968, the team’s first year in Oakland.
After remaining with the A’s until 1971. In November 1971 he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Ken Holtzman. The A’s went on to win three straight World Series from ’72-’74 while Monday was with the Cubs. During the five season Monday spent in Chicago he hit a career-high 32 home runs in 1976.
In January 1977 Monday was traded along with Mike Garman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor leaguer Jeff Albert , Bill Buckner and Ivan de Jesus. He was granted free agency after the season but he chose to resign with the Dodgers where he spent the last years of his 19-year career.
He made his second All-Star appearance with the Dodgers in 1978. He finished his career after 19 seasons with a .264 batting average along with 241 home runs and 775 RBI.
Despite being the first draft pick ever, 50 years ago, he was also an American hero of sorts. In 1976, while still with the Cubs, two protesters began burning an American flag during the fourth inning at a game at Dodger Stadium. He immediately jumped out of the dugout and stopped the protesters, making him the star of the game.
When Monday came up to bat in the next inning he received a standing ovation and the scoreboard read “RICK MONDAY YOU MADE A GREAT PLAY.”
Later Monday said of his heroic gesture,
“If you’re going to burn the flag, don’t do it around me. I’ve been to too many veterans’ hospitals and seen too many broken bodies of guys who tried to protect it.”
The Cubs also organized a “Rick Monday Day” on May 4, 1976 where he was presented with an American flag flown over Valley Forge National Historical Park in honor of his 1976 bicentennial flag rescue during a pregame ceremony at Wrigley Field.
Monday still has the flag he rescued from the protesters. Club executives said that he had received offers upwards of a million dollars to sell it but that he was not interested in the least.
During a Dodgers Stadium game on September 2, 2008, Monday was presented with a Peace One Earth Medallion and a lapel pin by Patricia Kennedy, founder of the non-profit organization Step Up 4 Vets, for his patriotic actions on April 25, 1976 at Dodgers Stadium.
So the Kansas City A’s picked well in that very first MLB amateur draft a half a century ago. Monday was a two-time All-Star and a patriotic man who had a long and meaningful career. I hope you learned a little something today on “Off-Day Fun Facts” from BBST!