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The Busty Ballad of Morganna the Kissing Bandit

A legend in her day, Morganna was famous for storming the field during games and planting big smooches on the cheeks of athletes nationwide. To this day, there’s been no one like her

Big naturals are more than just a body part. They’re an energy, a culture, a lens through which we consume and create the world around us. And while big-breastedness may be both spiritual and bodily, there is a material world and timeline of events that document how this culture came to be. As MEL‘s resident boob culture writer and a woman of breast-experience, I’ll be analyzing these objects and happenings, telling the stories of their origins and their impact on society. This is Big Moments in Big Naturals.

It’s May 2, 1998, and Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., stands at bat in a game against the Texas Rangers. Suddenly, the game is halted — a blonde figure has come prancing onto the field from the stands. She’s running — well, it’s more of a light jog, as she appears slightly weighed down by her disproportionate knockers — right toward Ripken. As she approaches, both her and Ripken smile with approval, and she plants a big, pink-lipstick-coated kiss right on his cheek. Donning the smooch stain, he hits a home run soon after. 

The Orioles lost the game, but that wasn’t the point. Regardless of the winners, the teams and the players, the game was important because it was one of many in which Morganna the Kissing Bandit graced the field with her presence and mystifyingly large, I-cup breasts, delivering baseball’s record holder for most consecutive games played a kiss before being taken away by security. 

Between 1969 and 2000, dancer and entertainer Morganna would kiss over 40 athletes in the midst of a game. They were primarily baseball players but a few basketball players, hockey players and even a mascot were smooched, too. Her tactic was to hop past security and run toward the players, planting a kiss on their cheeks (she never aimed for the lips, not wanting to upset player’s wives or deal with their tobacco-filled mouths). Because of this, her kisses were referred to as “stolen,” thus making her a “bandit,” but they were never not playful. In videos documenting the kisses, players always seemed to be smiling, happy to be selected as worthy of the trespassing charges that Morganna would soon incur. 

Speaking of which, Morganna was arrested and charged with trespassing for disrupting games 19 times. Still, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, she was practically a staple of the American pastime. But the reason this is a breast story and not simply a baseball tale is because Morganna intentionally made it so: It’s not just that she had big naturals, but rather that they were always part of her narrative. 

Before becoming the MLB’s resident kisser, Morganna was an exotic dancer. As the Spokesman-Review reported in 1989, she ran away from home in Louisville, Kentucky at only 13, sleeping in street doorways and eating from trash cans. With few other options, she lied to club managers, said she was 18 and got hired as a go-go dancer. As she grew older, her knack for show business and flair for eccentricity blossomed, though her boobs became the stars of the show. According to FanBuzz, she wore 10-gallon cowboy hats upon them as part of her stage show, and took aerobic classes to strengthen her back so she could support their weight. 

In 1969, at age 22, she went to a Reds game in Cincinnati where Pete Rose was playing. At the time, he’d been featured in commercials for hot dogs. Dared by her friends, she jumped onto the field and sprinted over to him. 

“I ran up to him and said, ‘Pete, I buy your hot dogs,’” she told USA Today in 2019.  “And he turned to me, and I remember exactly what he said: ‘You crazy blanking broad.’ But he used a big word, ‘Are you out of your blanking mind?’”

She gave him a kiss on the cheek, and the habit was formed. Soon after that initial kiss, a Cincinnati reporter wrote up the incident, referring to Morganna as a “kissing bandit.” 

Following one later kiss where she was arrested, her big naturals were even used as the excuse for how she ended up on the field in the first place. As her lawyer argued in 1985, her 15-pound chest caused her to fall over onto the field as she leapt for a foul ball. “The judge laughed but the argument worked,” FanBuzz reported

Famously, former Detroit Piston’s small forward Kelly Tripucka reflected upon his encounter with Morganna as being “like hugging a mattress. When I saw her coming at me, I thought it was like a Mack truck. I had two options — either get hit or get out of the way. I decided to get hit.” While the quote was given in good humor, it signifies some of the dynamics involved in Morganna’s fame and relationship with athletes. Morganna became an anticipated force on the field/court, a fun interlude with the potential to annoy some. But she seemed to have the foresight to end the gimmick at just the right time. 

Morganna stealing a kiss from Otto Velez of the Toronto Blue Jays

Morganna continued to kiss players throughout the 20th century, as well as pursue a variety of modeling and showbiz gigs. She even did Playboy in 1983, and translated her popularity on the field into a handful of lucrative stints as feature-dancer in strip clubs and spokeswoman for car shows and trade events. She’s 74 now, but fractures she endured from ballpark security during her trespasses (and probably back pain from her chest size) means she hasn’t been able to comfortably storm a field in quite some time. After 2000, she went quiet, with the exception of the rare interview. 

Perhaps more significantly, both the games and the culture have changed since then, too. Running up to a stranger to kiss them has rightfully become a faux-pas at best, and today, MLB tends to ban fans who storm the field for life. Under the gaze of thousands of viewers in a stadium and potentially millions more on TV, the consent dynamics involved in “stealing kisses” feels like an entirely different ballgame today as well. This makes Morganna an usual relic of a time before such conversations were mainstream. But for 30 years, Morganna the Kissing Bandit embodied a big-breasted free-spiritedness, despite her extremely humble origins as a teen stripper. If there’s anything more American than baseball and apple pie, perhaps it’s her.

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