Just because: The Hanshin Tigers vs. Colonel Sanders

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

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First, the decidedly "apropos of nothing" backstory ... Back in 1985 the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League won their loop's equivalent of our World Series (the Japan Championship Series). According to timeless lore, fans of the newly minted champions celebrated by gathering on the Ebisubashi Bridge in Osaka and calling out each player's name. In keeping with obvious common sense, when each player's name was called, a fan who at least vaguely resembled that player jumped into the Dotonbori River.

Anyhow, cosmic affliction was set in motion when the name of American-born first baseman Randy Bass was intoned. You see, no one in attendance quite looked like Mr. Bass. Lucky-happily, there was a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken dining establishment, and said establishment had on its premises a statue of Colonel Sanders, America's favorite member of the landed gentry.

These being ebullient Tigers rooters and these also being streets of fire, the mob set upon the statue of Colonel Sanders because of its unassailble resemblance to Mr. Bass. As you'll soon see, both were bearded men of Western extraction ...

Mr. Bass's half of the photo is helpfuly captioned so as to prevent any (quite understandable) confusion.

Anyhow, these wilding Tigers fans on those aforementioned streets of fire, plucked the good Colonel from his moorings and tossed him into the river, whereupon he sank to the murky depths. Meanwhile, the vengeful spectral presence of the actual Colonel Sanders looked on with mounting contempt. As the story goes, he declared from beyond the grave that the Hanshin Tigers would never again win the Series until their fans made redress for befouling his graven image.

For the next quarter century or so, the Tigers failed to win another championship and often finished in last or next-to-last place in the standings. And then finally, in 2009, after several failed attempts at Colonel retrieval, this happened ...

Rescue! No more shall the Colonel rest in the briny deepness like a forgotten Spanish galleon! Possible absolution!

As it turns out, though, the Tigers still haven't won the series since the Colonel was fished out of the Dotonbori. Some might wield this fact as evidence there was never any curse. Right-thinking types, however, will point to it as evidence the Colonel continues to smolder from his heavenly rocking chair and has not yet decided to show mercy.

As for the statue, grainy YouTube footage, which is nothing if not admissible and incontrovertible evidence, suggests it's been given a place of honor at another storefront purveyor of wholesome, nutritious fried meat.

Worth noting is that the Curse of the Colonel has its own Wikipedia page, which in that sense makes it no different from Loni Anderson or the Magna Carta.

So what have we learned today? This ...

(Wink of CBS eye: Pitchers & Poets, for reminding us of this gripping tale)

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