Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday recalls day in 1976 when he saved American flag from protesters

Thursday marks the 43rd anniversary of perhaps the greatest – and certainly most patriotic – save in the history of Dodgers Stadium.

On April 25, 1976, the Los Angeles Dodgers were hosting a home game against the Chicago Cubs when, as the bottom of the fourth inning began, two fans suddenly ran onto the field -- with an American flag, lighter fluid and matches.

As the protesters attempted to ignite the stars and stripes, legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully exclaimed, “It looks like he’s gonna burn a flag!"

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But before the duo could ignite the stars and stripes, Cubs centerfielder Rick Monday swooped in.

Monday, a former Marine, grabbed Old Glory and jogged away as one of the protesters chucked the can of lighter fluid in the big leaguer’s direction.

The protesters were arrested, and when Monday came up to bat in the top of the fifth inning, he received a standing ovation -- on the road. The scoreboard even flashed the message, "Rick Monday...you made a great play."

"It angered me for a lot of reasons," Monday told NBC Sports in an interview to mark the anniversary of the iconic flag-saving incident. "First of all, you're interrupting the game. Secondly, now you're bringing out a flag, and I was only about three or four years removed from being in the Marine Reserves."

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Monday, who had a 19-year Major League Baseball career and currently works in the Dodgers broadcast booth, still has the flag. He and his wife take it around the country to raise money for military charities.

Monday said of his legacy: "It's a good thing I did get it, because I did not want any of my former drill instructors from the Marine Corps to come and say, ‘Hey Marine! Why did you stand there and watch when they ignited the American flag?’"