An End To Japan Team's 'Curse Of Col. Sanders'?

A statue of Col. Sanders that was pulled out of the sludge of a river near Osaka, Japan. i i

A statue of Col. Sanders was pulled out of the sludge of a river near Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday. It had been missing since 1985, when fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team threw it into the river after winning the Japan Series championship. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption AFP/Getty Images
A statue of Col. Sanders that was pulled out of the sludge of a river near Osaka, Japan.

A statue of Col. Sanders was pulled out of the sludge of a river near Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday. It had been missing since 1985, when fans of the Hanshin Tigers baseball team threw it into the river after winning the Japan Series championship.

AFP/Getty Images

It's known as the "Curse of Col. Sanders." Back in 1985, when a baseball team in Osaka, Japan, won a championship, ecstatic fans threw a statue of the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken into the Dotonbori River in a burst of jubilation. The team hasn't won a championship since.

But on Wednesday, divers found the long-submerged statue, caked with gray sludge, and now fans of the Hanshin Tigers believe the curse may be over.

The fans had picked the Col. Harland Sanders statue because it was the closest thing they could find that looked like Randy Bass, the team's star slugger.

Bass tells NPR's Robert Siegel that usually fans who look like the players they're celebrating jump into the river. But because no one looked like the blond, bearded Bass, they grabbed the statue, dressed it up in Bass' uniform and tossed it.

Bass, who played 130 games over six seasons with five major league clubs including the Hanshin Tigers, is now a state senator for Oklahoma.

"It's incredible," Bass says. "Put all of your money on the Tigers, that's for sure. They definitely have a shot. They have a great team, too."

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