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Baseball fun goes bust since ‘Kissing Bandit’ got jiggly with it

Don Logan was in Salt Lake City on Sunday night, preparing for Triple-A All-Star Game XXIV on Wednesday, when the 51s’ executive director was asked about Triple-A All-Star Game III, the one played at Cashman Field on July 11, 1990.

Logan was the Las Vegas Stars’ assistant general manager in 1990. He had a Jerry Lewis-like shock of black hair and wore these wire-rim glasses that resembled racing goggles, proving that old game programs do not always make ideal keepsakes.

Logan remembered that Juan Gonzalez, then of the Oklahoma City 89ers, later of the Texas Rangers with brief stops in Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City, hit a ball off the light tower in left field during the home run derby. He recalled that it rained all week, and that it was so hot and humid on the day of the game that the black-and-red tie Stars GM Larry Koentopp insisted that Logan wear was soaked in perspiration.

Oh, yeah — Logan also remembered that Morganna “The Kissing Bandit” ran onto the field early in the game to plant a kiss on Stars All-Star third baseman Eddie Williams, but only upon being prodded.

This is why Logan is a baseball man, and I am more of a well-endowed-former-exotic-dancer-running-onto-the-field-to-kiss-a-ballplayer kind of man.

The box score that night shows the National League Stars beating the American League Stars 8-5 in front of a sellout crowd of 10,223. And that the “Stars of Stars” were Luis Sojo of the Syracuse Chiefs, Williams and Gonzalez. Uh-uh. Is it too late to file a protest? The real Stars of Stars that night were Morganna and her … well … you know.

Morganna Roberts and the You Knows burst onto the scene — not literally, but close — in the early 1970s. Her big, um, breakthrough occurred in 1971 when she bolted onto the field at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium as only she, and perhaps Dolly Parton, could. She smooched Pete Rose, who initially was not pleased. The next day, after everybody was talking about it, ol’ Charlie Hustle was totally pleased.

Had Morganna made her debut on the day baseball teams select their stars of the future, she would’ve easily been the biggest bust in draft history. Only Danny Goodwin, who was picked first in both 1971 (by the White Sox) and 1975 (by the Angels) and never panned out, comes close.

Morganna’s 37 major league “victims” over the years included Cal Ripken Jr., Johnny Bench, Steve Garvey, Don Mattingly, Nolan Ryan and The Famous Chicken, who pecked and then royally beak-locked her. George Brett got kissed twice, including once at the 1979 All-Star Game in Seattle. Said Kelly Tripucka of the Detroit Pistons, who Morganna bussed after she branched off into basketball, “It was like hugging a mattress.”

Although Morganna had her own baseball card, Baseball Reference.com does not include a page — er, pages — of her vital statistics. The best guess is she was in her late 30s when she added Eddie Williams to the kisses on her list.

After Morganna cozied up to Williams that night, she was “apprehended” by Nick Fitzenreider and Harold Daly Jr. of the Cashman Field security force. Fitzenreider, still with the 51s, said he “kind of had a suspicion” that Morganna might show up. (He had practically set the whole thing up, having made Morganna contacts when he was with the St. Louis Cardinals.)

Fitzenreider and Daly appeared more stern than TV detectives Friday and Gannon as they escorted the famous trespasser from view. But when they arrived in the dugout tunnel, Morganna planted a kiss on Fitzenreider, too.

She did not stay for the game. Bob Blum, the 51s’ present-day special assistant to the GM, paid Morganna $500 for the effort, wrote a similar check to cover her expenses, and gave her a ride to the airport.

The autographed picture she gave to Blum is pretty much the last anybody around here has seen of Morganna, who “retired” in 2001, when she would have been around 47. She was briefly part-owner of the Utica Blue Sox, and legend has it the Blue Sox went 40-14 after one of her pep talks. Tore the New York-Penn League right up.

The point of most, if not all, of this is that baseball was a lot more fun when Morganna was around. If she tried to jump onto the field today, security would probably throw her to the ground and zap her with a Taser.

Though it might have taken the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line, and an industrial-strength Taser.

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

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