I had to have more information about this story after I heard it on Morning Joe's sports segment this morning, with our very own Mario Solis (they call him Super Mario on that show!) Apparently a Japanese baseball team has been under the Curse of Colonel Sanders and can't win a game!
The AFP story says:
"When the city's Hanshin Tigers won the national championship in 1985, ecstatic fans hurled the fast food icon into a river to honour their team's bearded US slugger and home run king Randy Bass, saying he resembled the Colonel.
Baseball lore in the western city recalls how the drunken supporters "liberated" the bespectacled figure from a restaurant and threw him from a bridge into the grey waters of the Dotonbori river, hours after their first ever victory.
Local news from across Southern California
Since that crazy night the team's fortunes have sunk as fast as the life-sized statue. The Tigers have failed to sign promising rookies and never won another national championship, in a streak of ill fortune that has become known as "the curse of Colonel Sanders" across baseball-obsessed Japan."
Well, the Colonel's torso was found by a construction crew on Tuesday, and its lower half and right hand were found the next day and reunited with the rest of the barnacle-y statue, which somehow lost its glasses over the years in the drink. Just in time for baseball season!
For the record, no one really thought the Randy Bass looked like the Colonel. It's just that he had a beard, and that was enough. Here's a picture of Randy in 1985.
Apparently it wasn't just a random act of debauchery that landed the Colonel in the river; crazed fans were flinging themselves off the bridge, and the Colonel came along for the ride for a reason. According to the Wikipedia story on the Curse of the Colonel:
"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."
A KFC spokesman says the statue will go to a good home -- perhaps even be erected at the Tigers' stadium! Check out the story from Japan here:
This is just one of many, many sports curses ... I looked up a list on Wikipedia; check it out here.
Two notables in the "C" section with the "Colonel," are:
1. The "California curse." The Angels were the Los Angeles Angels until 1965, when they changed their name to the California Angels. A laundry list of bad stuff followed; when they dropped "California" and switched to "Anaheim" in 1997, the curse was lifted -- they even won the World Series in 2002!
2. The "Chick Hearn curse." According to our own resident baseball fanatic Conan Nolan, this is not a good or worthy curse because it hasn't yet stood the test of time. I think he doesn't like it because it's not about baseball. Anyway, the Lakers haven't won a championship since the death of Chick Hearn, and that's the extent of it. No word on how they'll reverse THAT one.
We'll just have to watch the Tigers this season to see if the curse was real or the team was just ... well ... chicken.