Japanese Team Fights ‘Curse of Colonel Sanders'

Kentucky Fried Chicken symbol stands in for team's baseball woes

In Chicago, it's a goat. In Boston, it was Babe Ruth. In Osaka, Japan, it's something entirely weirder and therefore more entertaining: Colonel Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken's ubiquitous mascot.

Yes, ever since rowdy fans of the Hanshin Tigers celebrated their team's championship in 1985 by throwing the Colonel into the Dotonbori River, the Colonel has been "cursed," and the Tigers haven't won since. For 24 years, people attempted to find the Colonel and pull him out of the lake, thereby lifting the curse, but no one ever found him. Until Tuesday night:

The upper body of the statue was discovered at around 4 p.m. about 200 meters away from where it plunged into the water in 1985. When the figure was being pulled up by the crane on a salvage barge, construction workers could be heard to say, "It looks like a corpse." However, when Tigers fans such as the riverside project foreman saw the statue, they exclaimed, "It's the Colonel!"

Yes, yes, the Colonel is back, ready to give us delicious, brutally unhealthy chicken. In the meantime, if his recovery lifts the curse and helps the Hanshin Tigers win a league championship again, well, that's just a pleasant side effect.

Why did Tigers fans throw the statue in the river in the first place? Apparently, they thought it bore a resemblance to then-Tigers slugger Randy Bass, and after doing a little Googling, we have to disagree: Randy Bass did not look like the Colonel in 1985. All those years of needless curse -- at least pick a better lookalike, right?

Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger who is suddenly hungry for greasy chicken. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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