Commentary

‘Where’s Kenyon,’ Morganna and the Heidi Game

Did you see where an extremely drunk basketball fan wandered onto the court in Denver last week during the NBA playoff series between the Nuggets and the LA Lakers?

The video of the lady, whose unlikely name is Savannah McMillan- Christmas, became an Internet and sports highlight sensation.

In our terror-haunted world, everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the incident, obviously, was about alcohol, not politics or ideology.

McMillan- Christmas quite literally staggered toward Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson as he brought the ball across half court.

She was quickly taken into custody by security guards and was observed talking to them as she was led away. After the game the guards revealed what Savannah was saying. Which was “Where’s Kenyon? Where’s Kenyon?”

She was obviously a fan of Kenyon Martin, former Nuggets forward.

For old timers, McMillan- Christmas’s antics brought back memories of the all-time champion game-crasher.

From the 70s to the 90s, Morganna Roberts, who came to be known as the Kissing Bandit, lip-locked pro baseball and basketball athletes about 50 times.

Morganna, who was an, uh, exotic dancer of sorts, would bounce out onto the field, kiss the athlete, then get arrested. She claimed it all started one night in 1970 in Cincinnati when a friend “double dog dared her” to kiss Reds superstar Pete Rose.

She did. Rose swore at her. But he felt bad about it, tracked her down a couple of nights later, apologized and brought flowers.

A career was born.

When she “retired,” Morganna said she had kissed 37 major league baseball players—virtually every major star of the era—and 12 NBA players.

She especially liked George Brett of the Kansas City Royals and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers. She got them more than once.

(She obviously had to have a little bending-over help from Abdul-Jabbar, who is 7-2).

Morganna said she only kissed her victims on the cheek, not the lips, and explained: “It doesn’t get the wives jealous and besides, with all those baseball players, I didn’t want tobacco stains on my teeth.”

A quite different kind of interruption at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles happened on April 25, 1976, and has gone down in sports history.

With the visiting Chicago Cubs warming up before an inning, two men jumped out of the stands, something in their hands, ran out to center field and knelt down.

As they fumbled with the item, it became obvious the object was an American flag and they were about to burn it.

Until Cubs center fielder Rick Monday swooped in, grabbed the flag away and carried it to a stadium attendant.

The two got hauled off by security and Monday got the biggest, and most moving, standing ovation for a visiting player in Los Angeles sports history.

Monday, who has one of those Joh n-Way ne - ac t ion s- spe a klouder than-words demeanors, explained; “I saw what they were about to do and there was no way I was going to let them do it.”

Monday played 19 years, had 1,619 hits and 248 home runs but he’s best known for saving that flag.

His verdict? “That’s not a bad thing to be known for.”

The all-time classic sports interruption, though, was not the fault of a fan, it was a television network.

On Nov. 17, 1968, bitter rivals Oakland Raiders and New York Jets (on the way to the Super Bowl upset which would restructure the NFL) met in a showdown. New York led 32-29 with just over two minutes to play.

But the final seconds were filled with spectacular TD plays, turnovers, controversial penalties, an even more controversial injury to Jets quarterback Joe Namath and one of the more improbable comebacks in football history as Oakland won 43-32.

Announcers Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis left the broadcast booth confident they’d just aired a classic. “That was the most exciting two minutes of football I’ve ever seen,” Gowdy gasped.

Except for one problem. No one saw the last two minutes. NBC cut away from the football game to show the beginning of the movie “Heidi.”

Phone lines literally melted from calls by enraged fans. NBC phone circuits blew out, and had to be replaced, 26 times in the next hour.

In 1968 there were three networks, no smart phones, no Internet. If NBC, CBS or ABC didn’t show it to you, you didn’t see it.

“ The Heidi Game” became infamous. NBC swore it would never happen again and it didn’t. It even changed the way games were broadcast with no more “automatic switching” of signals at a certain time.

On Monday, the nex t day, Harry Reasoner of CBS—NBC’s competitor, of course—ended the evening news by deadpanning:

“And now the results of the Raiders-Jets game (pause).... Heidi married the goatherd.”

mike@rockdalereporter.com


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2012-05-17 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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