Remembering Morganna, The Kissing Bandit

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It’s hard to remember a time when someone running out onto the playing field at a sporting event would not be chased, pummeled or tased. Or that we, as a society, wouldn’t find it uncomfortable and problematic for someone to run up to another person and give them an unsolicited kiss.  But the 1960s-80s were a very different time and place. A time and place that could produce Morganna, the Kissing Bandit.

People my age and older remember her. For those who don’t, all you really need to know is that she was an extremely buxom woman who would run out onto baseball diamonds — later in life it was more of a shuffle than a run — and plant one on various ballplayers. Pete Rose was her first target. Many others would follow. As would appearances on late night talk shows, “celebrity” panel game shows and in various places around our then comparatively barren pop culture landscape.

If you want to know more about her, go watch this mini-documentary about her. Which I found really interesting, even if I liked it somewhat better when I knew absolutely nothing about her apart from her strange, random appearances at now mostly-demolished baseball stadiums back in the era of big hair and plastic grass.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.