Len Barker

Len BarkerIn the 1981 All-Star Game played at his home park in Cleveland, Barker entered the game in the top of the third inning to thunderous applause from the Indians’ fans. After he enticed Pete Rose to bounce out to second base on the first pitch, the game was interrupted by an unexpected visitor. Morganna Roberts, a busty model and entertainer, ran onto the diamond and wrapped her arms around Barker on the mound, planting a kiss on his cheek. Known as “Morganna the Kissing Bandit,” Roberts had previously kissed other baseball stars at other games, including Rose, Johnny Bench, Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and steve Garvey. As Morganna was escorted from the field by security, her gigantic boobs barely staying in her tee-shirt, the TV broadcast panned to a box near the on-deck circle where comedian Bob Hope, commissioner Bowie Kuhn, and U.S. vice-president George Bush were sharing a laugh about the incident.

The Texas Rangers, who made a series of poor personnel decisions in the 1970s, gave up on Barker too soon and traded him along with Bobby Bonds to the Indians at the conclusion of the 1978 season. Cleveland sent Jim Kern and Larvell Blanks to the Rangers, Kern, who some people called “The Stork” because of his awkward physical appearance, had a great year for Texas in 1979, but after that he had arm troubles. Barker led the AL in strikeouts in 1980 and won 19 games for the Tribe. In ’81 on May 15 at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Barker completely dominated the Blue Jays, fanning 11 batters and throwing a perfect game. In the contest, Barker coaxed nine ground outs and seven fly outs to go with his 11 strikeouts. He struck out two batters in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, and then one more in the 9th inning.

Barker led the AL in strikeouts during the strike-shortened season of 1981 as well, giving him consecutive titles in that category. Then he had a decent season in 1982, winning 15 games with 187 strikeouts, but when he got off to a slow start in 1983 the Indians shopped him at the trade deadline. The Braves snatched him up, but Barker won only ten games in three years for Atlanta, suffering from arm injuries. He made a comeback with the Brewers in 1987 making 11 starts, but in his last two starts in the big leagues, in September of that year, he was unable to make it past the third inning.