Glancing Back, and Remembering Rick Monday
Coming up with the American League’s perennial also-rans in Kansas City, Rick Monday quickly established himself as one of the best players in the Athletics’ line-up and one of the best all-around players in the league.
A native of Arkansas, Monday starred for the Arizona State Sun Devils, leading the team to the 1965 NCAA championship (while playing with future teammate and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson). Monday was the first overall selection in the inaugural Major League First-Year Player Draft in 1965, taken by the Kansas City Athletics. He appeared in 17 games for the A’s at the end of the 1966 season, and then batted .251 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs in his 1967 rookie campaign.
Monday was an All-Star in 1968, when he hit .274 for the now Oakland Athletics. He batted .271 in 1969, .290 in 1970 and slipped to .245 in 1971. In November of 1971, the A’s dealt Monday to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ken Holtzman, and Monday was to become a mainstay in the Cubs’ outfield for the next five seasons, hitting a combined .270. His best season in Chicago was 1976, when he hit .272 and had career bests in home runs (32) and RBIs (77).
In 1977 Monday was traded with Mike Garman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jeff Albert (minors), Bill Buckner and Ivan De Jesus. He spent his last eight major league seasons with the Dodgers, hitting a combined .254 and providing the team’s best center field play since the departure of Willie Davis.
After so many years of consistently performing well for second-division teams, Monday finally tasted World Series success as a member of the Dodgers in 1981. He was primarily a utility player when he hit the deciding home run in the National League Championship Series. Monday drilled a two-out, ninth-inning homer that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Expos, a victory that elevated the Dodgers to the World Series where they dispatched the New York Yankees in six games.
Monday lasted for 19 big league seasons, hitting a combined .264 with 1,619 hits over his career. He was twice an All-Star, once in each league.