Back in the summer of 2003, I had made the biggest decision of my life and moved to Osaka, Japan. Upon my arrival, on the very first day, I was immediately drawn to the Hanshin Tigers team. This was a team that had the pinstripe uniforms…but yet the feel of that team was not Yankees-like. The team was managed by a passionate manager (Hoshino Senichi) who was fiery and argued calls with umpires like McEnroe would argue with line judges in tennis. The players on that team played their hearts out and I still remember vividly whenever the Tigers would win a game, there would be the ‘NEVER NEVER NEVER SURRENDER’ sign that would flash on the TV screen.
‘Did you know about the curse of the Colonel?’ asked my college friend, who is an Osaka native. He explained to me it had been 18 years since the Tigers had won the Central league pennant. When the Tigers last won the Central league, some fans had decided to jump into the Doutonbori river in downtown Osaka. Each of those fans had dressed up in uniform to represent a member of that winning team. The problem was, however, that there was a player by the name of Randy Bass, who played a pivotal role in aiding the Tigers to the Central league pennant, and who happened to be American.
The group of fans could not find a white Caucasian male to fill the role of Bass, so in desperation, they found a replacement in the Colonel. As in, Colonel Sanders, of KFC. The fans jumped in to the Doutonbori river and threw the Colonel Sanders statue in to the river along with them. Unbeknownst to all Tigers fans, this coincided with a title drought that lasted until the 2003 season. In fact, Tigers fans were so desperate to end the curse that some of them tried to locate the statue of the Colonel, but mysteriously it could not be found at all until it finally resurfaced in March of 2009.
As a Red Sox fan and Boston native, I immediately became a fan since this ‘curse’ resonated with me. Heck, if the Hanshin Tigers could break this curse, there may be hope for the Sox as well. The next year, that other curse fell too. Thank you Tigers!
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