Where Are They Now? Morganna
Why did baseball's buxom Kissing Bandit retire her act four years ago? Hard to say, because now she's revealing nothing
By Steve Rushin
The following story originally appeared in the June 30, 2003 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Her bust should have its own bust in Cooperstown. Morganna the Kissing Bandit had measurements like a first-place hockey record, 60-24-39, and so she required a custom-built brassiere with, as God is our witness, an I cup. Arrested in Houston in 1985 after running onto the field and kissing Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan and shortstop Dickie Thon, she successfully used a "gravity defense," claiming in court that physics caused her to fall over an Astrodome fence and onto the playing surface. "Who's gonna argue," she asked, "with Isaac Newton?"
Of course, her profile was less Newtonian than Partonian. (And Morganna was fond of telling anyone who'd listen--including Johnny Carson--that Dolly was modestly embosomed by comparison.) She first trespassed on the scene in 1971, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, where she gamboled across the field on a friend's "dirty double dare," she said, and kissed Pete Rose. (In later years Morganna liked to say that her career began with a bet, and his ended with one.)
During the quarter century that ensued, fans frequently saw MTKB bounding from a box seat onto one diamond or another, beneath a Vesuvius of blonde hair, to give a chaste kiss to a litany of All-Stars that included Johnny Bench, George Brett (twice), Steve Garvey and Cal Ripken Jr. She was intercepted by security before she could smooch Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg in the first night game at Wrigley Field, in 1988, and spent some time in the Unfriendly Confines of a Chicago jail. But the truth is, no jail could hold her -- this may have literally been so -- and she never suffered serious legal trouble.
Morganna (the Kissing Bandit) Roberts grew up in Louisville but was immortalized as neither the Louisville Hugger nor the Louisville Lip. (That was taken.) She got her nickname from a Cincinnati sportswriter, but in fact there was no banditry about her, for few athletes resisted her heavily lipsticked advances. When she branched out briefly into basketball, planting one on Charles Barkley in 1989, he found himself staring deeply into her I's. "[He] kept talking to my cleavage while I kissed him," she said.
All of which turned MTKB into a C-list celebrity who autographed glossy photographs of herself with the phrase BREAST WISHES. And so Morganna is the only individual in this Where Are They Now issue of whom we might reasonably ask: Where Are They Now?
The erstwhile exotic dancer, who has split with accountant Bill Cottrell, her husband of more than 25 years, is reportedly 49 (though other sources list her at 55), and lives a quiet Midwestern life, putting a much-needed buss in Columbus, Ohio. Beyond that, she's gone Garbo. We haven't seen her kisser since 1999, nor has she done an interview since the turn of the millennium. She has repeatedly declined interview requests from Sports Illustrated and, reportedly, from Playboy, for whom she once divested herself of her Brobdingnagian brassiere. But two years ago she did leave a 4 a.m. message on the voice mail of Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Dan Raley, with whom she also declined to do an interview. Her message, in part: "I just got sick of talking about myself and always being the center of attention." She added, with a depressingly Presleyan finality, "Morganna has left the building." Pity, because we need Morganna -- more than ever in these troubled times -- to enter the building and to frolic on its field of play.
Baseball has no shortage of diamond-crashers; liquored-up yahoos at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field come to mind. A few wannabes will even give an illicit peck to Derek Jeter, but Morganna really was pecked -- by the San Diego Chicken. And so, while we may one day see a more bosomy busser (a temptress in a T cup, perhaps), we shall never again see another Morganna, who remains, like Ted Williams, the Greatest There Ever Was. Morganna, we hardly knew ye.
Why, at the top of her game, did she kiss it all goodbye? Was she puckered out, tuckered out, felled by mononucleosis? Sadly, we may never know. Baseball's most famous lips are -- and may forever remain -- sealed.