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Attend any MLB game today, and there’s always a plethora of in-game entertainment. Mascots take center stage most of the time entertaining the crowds with dances or fun contests. It’s a far cry from the days when Morganna “The Kissing Bandit” chased unsuspecting players in a variety of sports to plant a big kiss on their cheeks. What is she doing today?

Morganna the Kissing Bandit is born

It all began back in 1969 when Morganna Cottrell made her major league debut at Crosley Field during a Cincinnati Reds game. The 17-year-old, along with a couple of friends, sat close to field level and noticed several of the Cincinnati Reds players looking their direction. Except for one—Pete Rose.

Rose’s disinterest in the girls and a $5 bet from her friend was all the motivation the teenager needed. Soon after, Morganna found herself bounding over the fence on to the field chasing after the star player headed to his position in center field.

Morganna The Kissing Bandit
Morganna The Kissing Bandit | Photo by Dick Loek/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Once she caught up with Rose, who at the time was starring in commercials for Ballpark Franks, she attempted to break the ice. Morganna told Rose she bought the hot dogs he promoted before giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. Rose called her crazy and told her she was going to get in trouble. She didn’t.

Her mission complete, Morganna hustled back toward her friends, hopped over the fence, and returned to her seat. No security. No arrest. She and her friends watched the rest of the game without incident. The next day a Cincinnati sportswriter dubbed her “The Kissing Bandit.”

A different experience with each kiss

While Rose’s response was understandably one of surprise since no one had ever seen or experienced her act before, Morganna received a much more receptive response from athletes in the years that followed.

Her baseball conquests included George Brett, Cal Ripken, Nolan Ryan, and numerous other big-name players. The responses of the players varied. Most were accommodating and would lean over and allow her to plant a kiss on one, and sometimes both cheeks.

But Morganna didn’t just stick to baseball. She eventually expanded her kissing exploits into other sports, including the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, and NHL. Through the years in all the different sports, she told USA Today she had been arrested a total of 19 times and in the process had suffered a cracked knee cap, a broken tailbone, and three broken ribs at the hands of security. 

“You know, sometimes the rent-a-cops get a little carried away. That’s just part of it. That and the jail is just part of it.” 

Morganna the Kissing Bandit

Each time she was arrested, she faced charges of trespassing or causing turmoil. She never got convicted.

Scottie Pippen will go down in history as receiving the last in-game kiss from Morganna in the early 1990s. Her final public kiss happened in a cameo appearance in the movie classic “Kingpin” in 1996.

Where is Morganna and what is she doing today?

Morganna the Kissing Bandit officially retired from her role in 2000 and retreated out of the public eye. Her disappearance into obscurity happened about as quickly as her appearance on the scene 30 years earlier.

Today, she lives near Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, Bill, where she enjoys being out of the spotlight and hanging out with friends. 

On occasion, someone will approach, generally a man, and ask if she’s Morganna. The now 72-year-old, who had breast reduction surgery years ago as part of the process to shed her previous identity, always denies she’s the former pop-culture institution. She tells the inquiring person her name is Mo.

Although her 15 minutes of fame ended 20 years ago, there’s no denying Morganna left a lasting impression on the world of sports—one kiss at a time.