The Curse of Colonel Sanders, which has haunted the Hanshin Tigers since 1985, has finally been lifted! Tonight the statue was finally found, and brought up from the depths of the canal in Dotonburi.
Read more about the Curse of Colonel Sanders below (copied from Wikipedia):
1985 Japan Series
In 1985, much to Japanese people’s surprise, the Hanshin Tigers faced the Seibu Lions and took their first and only victory in the Japan Series, largely due to star slugger Randy Bass, a gaijin (foreigner) player for the team.
The rabid fan base went wild, and a riotous celebration gathered at Ebisubashi Bridge in Dotonbori, Osaka. There, an assemblage of supporters yelled the players names, and with every name a fan resembling a member of the victorious team leapt from the bridge into the waiting canal. However, lacking someone to imitate MVP Randy Bass, the rabid crowd seized a Colonel Sanders (like Bass, the Colonel had a beard and was not Japanese) plastic statue from a nearby KFC and tossed it off the bridge as an effigy.
This impulsive maneuver was to cost the team greatly, beginning the Curse of the Colonel. Urban legend has it that the Tigers will not win the championship again until the statue is recovered.
18-year losing streak
After their success in the 1985 series, the Hanshin Tigers began an 18-year losing streak placing last or next-to-last in the league. Brief rallies in 1992 and 1999 brought hope to fans, but they were soon followed with defeat.
During this time attempts were made to recover the statue, including sending divers down and dredging the river, but they all failed. Fans apologized to the store manager, but the statue remained in the canal and the Tigers “cursed”.
2003 Central League
In 2003, the Tigers had an unexpectedly strong season. Their chief rivals, the Yomiuri Giants, lost their star player, Hideki Matsui, while the Tigers gained a pitcher Hideki Irabu, who had returned from playing with the Texas Rangers. The Tigers won the Central League to qualify for the Japan Series, and many newspapers speculated that the Curse of the Colonel had finally been broken.
Fans were enthusiastic about winning the Central League, and repeated the celebratory leap into Dotonbori Canal. However, instead of the individual leapers representing the players, over 5,300 fans plunged into the canal.
Many KFC outlets in Kōbe and Ōsaka moved their Colonel Sanders statues inside until the series was over to protect them from rabid Tigers fans The newly replaced Colonel Sanders statue in the Dotonbori KFC branch was bolted down to prevent a repeat of the incident.