After 24 long years, Hanshin Tigers fans can finally heave a sigh of relief with the news that a long lost statue of Colonel Sanders has been reassembled, after it was recovered from Osaka’s Dotonbori River.
The statue has long being linked with a curse that plagued the team since it was first lost to the unwholesome depths of the Dotonburi, and fans around Japan hope it might finally mark a return to form for the team.
According to legend, in 1985, after the Hanshin Tigers famously swept both the Central League championship and the Japan Series, drunken fans celebrated at the Ebisubashi Bridge on the Dotonbori River.
It was said that they started shouting the full roster of the team, and a person resembling the player would jump into the river.
Lacking someone that looked like imported star Randy Bass, they decided to substitute his lookalike with the Colonel Sanders statue from a nearby KFC, perhaps reasoning that they were both non-Japanese.
The Tigers never won a championship after this act of desecration.
The Colonel Sanders statue was recovered in two parts, the top part first, and the legs and hand on the day after; they had wound up 300m down the river from where they were first so ignominiously tossed into the murk.
The city council discovered it whilst cleaning the river in preparation for paving the river banks, a popular civic pastime in Japan.
The Colonel’s two feet and left hand remain trapped in the depths, along with his glasses, but officials have declared that they will not be searching for them (if indeed they had been actively searching for them in the first place).
Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi was quoted as saying: “The statue should be sent to the Koushien Stadium (the Tigers home stadium), as the myth is famous with the Hanshin Tigers”.
The statue was searched for previously, most famously by local TV program, “Tantei Knight Scoop”, but was not found due to the murky waters.
There is no word from KFC as to their response to the vandalism and belated salvage of their founder’s likeness.