In A Nutshell
In 1985, a Japanese baseball team from Oksaka called the Hanshin Tigers won the Japanese League (they had a penchant for losing). Their fans were ecstatic, and in their celebrations, they dumped a statue of Colonel Sanders from outside a local KFC into the Dotonori River, causing a curse that would dog them for 24 years.
The Whole Bushel
The Hanshin Tigers were never a team known for winning. They were forever the underdogs, plodding on despite their numerous defeats. Yet, their fans were intensely loyal. And when the Tigers got a new signing, a bearded and tubby American named Randy Bass, their luck began to change. The Tigers went all the way and won the Japanese league for the first time in 21 years.
Fans of the Hanshin Tigers were ecstatic in their team’s victory and pretty soon, like most sports fans celebrating an important win, they got rowdy. They assembled by the Dotonori River and fans lined up along the river’s edge. Whenever the name of a player was yelled out, a corresponding fan who resembled that player would then jump into the water. However, there were no fans who resembled their MVP, Randy Bass, but someone helpfully pointed out that Bass looked a little like a storefront statue of Colonel Sanders outside a local KFC. The statue of Colonel Sanders was promptly ripped from the ground and tossed into the river on Randy’s behalf.
From that day on, the Hanshin Tigers were said to be cursed by the ghost of Colonel Harland Sanders, angry at the indignity of being banished to his watery, polluted realm. Many of the Tigers’ fans probably thought the curse was ridiculous, but as the 18-year losing streak broke records, opinion began to turn as the Tigers’ were consistently placed bottom of the league. An urban legend was born: The Tigers would not win the championship again until the colonel was returned from the river.
Many attempts were made to retrieve Sanders to lift the curse but they all failed—until 2009, when divers working to clean debris from the riverbed came across the water-damaged, color-faded body of the Sanders statue and dragged it to the surface. At first they thought it might have been a corpse, until Tigers fans pointed out that no, it was the colonel. His bottom half was missing, along with his spectacles. But he still had the iconic Colonel Sanders smile. Tigers fans rejoiced. As far as they were concerned, the curse was now lifted.