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Friday, January 10, 2014

Japanese Urban Legend - Curse Of The Colonel

Baseball fans in North America will probably have heard about the Curse of the Bambino (Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to New York Yankees in 1919 and fail to win another World Series until 2004) or the Curse of the Billy Goat (In 1945, Billy Goat Tavern owner was asked to leave a Chicago Cubs game because he smelled of goat, cursing the Cubbies by saying "Them Cubs, they ain't going ta win no more!" - and they haven't... but then again, they haven't since 1908, well before that curse raised a stink)...

Well, guess what? Japan has its very own baseball curse too...

Say hello to the "Curse of the Colonel" and the Hanshin Tigers.

Now... the first thing I thought was: Colonel Sanders of KFC fame and jokingly wondered what that delightful southern gentleman would ever have against one of the oldest professional baseball teams in Japan.

Turns out Colonel Sanders IS involved...

The Kāneru Sandāsu no Noroi - which is what the Curse of the Colonel is known as in Japan - came about in 1985.

The Hanshin Tigers had just won their first ever Japan Championship Series.. and as some dumbass fans are wont to do, they went a little crazy in their celebrations, and for some reason, the Colonel paid for it.

The Tigers had won thanks to the efforts of gaijin (foreign) ball player Randy Bass. To celebrate, fans gathered at the Ebisubashi Bridge that crosses the Dōtonbori River in Osaka. One by one, supporters would yell out a player's name from the Tigers and someone who like like that ball player would jump into the river.

Now... since we are in Japan... and we are talking about a Japanese ball club with a plethora of Japanese fans... there was no shortage of people to take the plunge into the Dōtonbori River... until they got to Randy Bass.

Where the hell were the Japanese fans going to get someone who looked like Randy Bass to go into the water?

Whose brilliant idea was it to start jumping into the river?

Then someone got the idea... to represent the series MVP (most valuable player) Randy Bass, fans went and stole the life-sized plastic statue of Colonel Sanders from a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken (which was what it was called in those days)... and chucked it off the bridge and into the river as an effigy.

As an added bonus... the Colonel had a beard and so did Randy Bass.

The Dōtonbori River is fairly deep and murky and as such, the Colonel Sanders statue was left in the cold confines of a watery grave.

Now, whether or not you believe in curses or just deserts, the Hanshin Tigers have not won a Japan baseball championship since the time the Colonel took a bath.

Is it the curse of Colonel Sanders punishing the Hanshin Tigers for dissing him? Maybe. But then again, the Colonel was hardly an innocent man in life... roasting million and millions of his victims in his giant ovens like the Nazi's did with the Jews, homosexuals and Gypsies... the Nazi's who were the allies of Japan during World War II... so I highly doubt that the Colonel would have it in for the Japanese... even though the Colonel was an American and 'Colonel' is also a military rank.

Okay... I know you can see the flaw in my "logic"... Kentucky Fried Chicken would never be roasted in an oven like the Nazi's did to the corpses of the Jews, homosexuals or Gypsies who were executed in gas chambers (the showers!)

Anyhow... since the Hanshin Tigers have sucked the big one for so long, fans began to think their team was cursed, and that the only way to break the curse was to find the statue of Colonel Sanders and return him to his original spot.

Well... the statue was found and recovered in the Dōtonbori River on March 10, 2009.

So why didn't the Hanshin Tigers win a baseball championship that year is the curse was broken?

Because the curse is NOT broken!!!

Initially, when the statue was round in the river after nearly 24 years, the divers thought they had at first discovered large barrel... and then upon closer inspection , thought it was a human corpse.

Better it had been a human corpse... the corpse of the idiot who dumped the statue.

What Hanshin Tigers fans discovered as they raced to the scene was that the divers had only found the upper portion of the long-lost Colonel.

Distraught, the fans urged the divers to continue their search, as a baseball fan can only handle so much crappy baseball (unless you are a Chicago Cubs fan, of course. How many years? Right. Shut-up).

(I should state for the record that while I am first and foremost a Pittsburgh Pirates fan and then a Toronto Blue Jays fan after we got a franchise.)

In Japanese baseball, the only souvenir I have is a coin purse of the Hanshin Tigers... but I became a Kintetsu Buffaloes fan because I thought Nomo Hideo (surname first) was the best pitcher on the planet.

The next day the Hanshin Tiger Fans were rewarded as the right hand and lower body were found.
Is anyone else impressed at how little the statue was broken down by the elements in 24 years?
So... curse over right?

Uh, no. Apparently the statue is still missing its left hand... and its glasses. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Since a curse is a curse and it needs to be fixed to break the curse, fans got a replacement left hand and a replacement pair of glasses and hoped that would do it.

Of course the statue would have to be placed back where it was stolen from... in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant...

... except they can't.

That particular Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) shop actually closed down... so resourceful fans (with permission from the KFC branch owner) placed the statue at a KFC shop near Koshien Stadium where the Hanshin Tigers play.

The curse has still not been lifted as the Colonel knows he is still missing his glasses and his left hand and is not laid to rest in the proper location. Hanshin Tigers fans know this to be true and are probably praying for the day a rich baseball fan will purchase a KFC franchise and place it on the site of the original shop... and will then pay to dredge or drain the river to find the hand and the glasses.

Hey! I just got it! Randy Bass... like a fish in a river! I wonder if he was a large-mouthed or small-mouth bass? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

If you like urban legends, check out a spooky one HERE.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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