Hanshin Tigers Japan Series title ends Curse of the Colonel

Hanshin Tigers Japan Series title ends Curse of the Colonel
It's not as famous as Babe Ruth's Curse of the Bambino the Boston Red Sox suffered from 1920 to 2004, or the Curse of the Billy Goat, which plagued the Chicago Cubs from 1945 to 2016, still, it's a story worth to tell.

The Hanshin Tigers are an historic Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) franchise. They were born on 10 December 1935 and took the field in 1936 as the Osaka Tigers.

The club is based in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture and plays home games at the historic Hanshin Koshien Stadium.

In the years of the Japanese Baseball League (1936-1949), the Tigers won four titles. Since the NPB was founded and the teams were divided into Central and Pacific League, they had to wait over a decade to win again.

They reached the Japan Series for the first time in 1962. They won the Central League again in 1964 but lost one more Japan Series.

They had to wait until 1985 to win another Central League pennant. The success was a surprise, and the celebrating fans gathered around Dotombori Canal in Osaka.

"The river has that history," said Hanshin Tigers writer Trevor Raichura on MLB.com. "There's some famous author, or Manga writer, or someone like that, who said in the '80s: If the Tigers win the pennant, I'll jump in the river."

It's exactly what fans did. They started pretending to be one of the players and then dove into the polluted waters. Everybody stopped when it became time to represent Randy Bass, their superstar. Bass, a 54-home run hitter, was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, USA, and no fan looked like him.

The jubilant Tigers fans spotted a giant statue of Colonel Sanders outside the local Kentucky Fried Chicken. That resembled their slugging first baseman.

Randy Bass_Colonel Sanders

The fans decided to pull the statue from the KFC restaurant and throw it into the canal. The statue sank into the muddy waters, and every attempt to pull it up failed.

The Tigers went on to win the Japan Series, so when a TV host stated that the Tigers wouldn't win another Japan Series until "the Colonel is rescued and cleansed of its sludge", nobody took him seriously.

It took another 18 years for the Tigers to win a Central League title. Fans dove again in the Dotombori Canal, and the celebrations ended tragically after a man lost his life.

The statue was finally rescued in 2009 and displayed in front of the Koshien stadium. The Tigers finished fourth that year.

Colonel Sanders statue_Osaka

In 2014, after KFC had moved the statue to their headquarters, the Tigers made it to the Japan Series but lost to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in five games.

Harland David Sanders (1890-1980) founded the KFC franchise and their brand ambassador. During the 2023 Japan Series, the Curse of the Colonel had Olympic gold medallist Yoshinobu Yamamoto add to it as he blanked the Tigers lineup in Game Six, forcing a Japan Series Game Seven.

It would make it a dramatic finish to the storytelling that the cardboard replica of the Colonel statue watched the Tigers end its curse from the KFC restaurant next to the Koshien stadium. Unfortunately, they won game seven at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka.