Monday Saves the Flag; The Bird Flies High

Mark Fidrych compiled a 19-9 won-loss mark during his magical year for the Tigers in 1976.

Mark Fidrych compiled a 19-9 won-loss mark during his magical year for the Tigers in 1976.

Look back at the 1976 MLB season.

By Glen Sparks

April 2 – The Oakland A’s trade star players Reggie Jackson Ken Holtzman, plus minor-league pitcher Bill Von Bommell, to the Baltimore Orioles for Don Baylor, Mike Torrez and Paul Mitchell.

April 15 – A newly remodeled Yankee Stadium with 52,613 fans in attendance. Former Yankee Bob Shawkey, winner of the 1923 opener, throws out the first pitch. The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 11-4.

April 25 – Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday sprints over to grab an American flag that two men were about to set fire to at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers win the game 5-4 in 10 innings. The following day, the Illinois legislature proclaims May 4 as Rick Monday Day in the Prairie state.

May 15 – The Detroit Tigers’ Mark “The Bird” Fidrych throws a complete game in his major league start, beating the Cleveland Indians 2-1. He carries a no-hitter through six innings, gives up just two hits total and, yes, talks to the ball.

May 29 – Houston Astros pitcher Joe Niekro hits the only home runs in his 22-year big-league career. The victim? Phil Niekro, Joe’s brother. The seventh-inning homer tied the game, and the Astros go on to win 4-3.

June 4 – Tom Seaver and the New York Mets blank the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-0. The Mets get plenty of offense from slugger Dave Kingman, who pounds three home runs.

July 20 – Hank Aaron, playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, hits the 755th and final home run his career. He smashes it of Dick Drago of the California Angles.

Sept. 10 – California Angels fireballer Nolan Ryan strikes out 18 Chicago White Sox and wins 3-2 at Comiskey Park.

Sept. 28 – Dodgers manager Walt Alston steps down after 23 seasons at the helm. “Smokey” led his teams to six National League pennants and four World Series titles. His replacement is third-base coach LaSorda.

Oct. 21 – The Cincinnati Reds wrap up their second straight World Series title by sweeping the New York Yankees in four games. The Series MVP is Johnny Bench, who bats .533 (8-for-15) with two home runs and six RBI.

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