Japanese baseball fans are crazy.
Okay, as sports fans go, relatively crazy. Not nutty
Welsh-rugby-fan-nut-cutting nuts, nor British soccer hooligan wacky,
nor Duke basketball Cameron crazy, but crazy just the same.
And just like crazy Red Sox fans they also believe
in curses. The Sox had their “Curse of the Bambino.” The Hanshin Tigers
of Osaka have their “Curse of Colonel Sanders”.
As of March 10th, fans of the Hanshin Tigers think
the curse may have been lifted. This is because the Colonel has been
recovered from his watery grave after spending 24 years as fish bait.
Let’s back up. A construction crew had divers working in the river when
the torso of a Colonel Sanders statue was discovered with its hands
missing. On the next day, the legs were fished up. Not only fished up…
but full of fish. Please, no jokes inserted here that it would be better had they found a statue of Long John Silver.
Hanshin fans are elated. “Now, we win Japanese World
series,” they say, something that has eluded them ever since they
tossed the Colonel into the Dotonbori River when celebrating their 1985
Japan Series win. Why did they do this, you ask? Believe me, you’re not
the only one asking. Ikuro Uezono, manager of the KFC restaurant near
the stadium asked the same thing… when he walked outside his restaurant
to find his statue gone.
The story goes that after the 1985 win, crazed,
rambunctious fans celebrated by having people who looked like various
Tiger players jump into the river. However, try as they might, they
found no one who looked like first baseman Randy Bass. You see, none of
the fans were Americans and none of the fans had Randy Bass’s beard and
while they were scratching their heads and muttering in Japanese about
the shame of having no Randy Bass look-alike they spotted the statue.
“Colonel Sanderson, he’ll be our Randy Bass! Hurry, hurry help carry
before Godzilla step out of river and attack city!” Too bad, they
didn’t think about the statue not floating like the rest of the river
Here’s the curse: Since 1985 the Tigers have
not won a World Series, despite having several lineups considered the
best in Japanese baseball. Among others, Cecil Fielder and Willie
Kirkland played for the Tigers. The Tigers were founded in 1935 and
owned by the Hanshin Railway. Their stadium is the oldest ballpark in
Japan, erected in 1924 and once visited by Babe Ruth (in 1934). They
won their league in 2003 and 2005. When the Tigers went to the series
in 2003, all KFC stores in Kobe and Osaka moved their Sanders statues
We tried but were unable to reach Randy Bass at his
cattle ranch near Lawton, Oklahoma where he is also an Oklahoma state
senator. We were going to ask him if he still eats chicken but after
thinking about it, maybe we were better off not reaching him. We are
also thinking that if the Tigers win the series this year, they should
be prepared. Find someone ahead of time who resembles Scott Atchison or
Kevin Mench and ask him if he can swim. On the other hand, you know who
has crazier fans than the Tigers? The New York Mets! Luckily, none of
the Mets players look like the Statue of Liberty.