Thursday, 21 October 2010

who is the greatest american baseballer ever to play in japan and also be cursed by colonel sanders and become a democratic senator?

Yes, you are right. It's Randy Bass. After a spotty career in the American Major Leagues, he joined the Hanshin Tigers in 1982 and went won four consecutive league batting titles. He turned around an underperforming team, and the Tigers won the Japan Series in 1985.

After the J Series win, nutty Tigers fans stood on a bridge and shouted the names of the team in order, and someone looking like the player named would then leap into the Dotonbori Canal (filthy).* No one looked like a bearded 31 year-old from Lawton, Oklahoma (seat of Comanche County and home of the annual Prince of Peace Easter passion play**). So they found a Colonel Sanders statue and threw it in instead.

Big mistake. Everyone knows that the Colonel doesn't take that kind of thing lying down. The Curse of the Colonel has kept Hanshin from victory for 25 years and counting. Fans tried to find him, and failed.*** They made offerings, but he didn't listen. It is all very sad. (Colonel Sanders was a real person. In animated adverts he is now voiced by Randy Quaid.)

Bass retired in 1988. He made visits to Japan as a cultural ambassador, which is the sort of thing Oklahoman voters love, and so they made him a Democratic State Senator in 2004.

* I have no idea why they did this.
** Yes, the one commemorated in the 1949 movie, Prince of Peace.
*** Eventually found last year during some construction work.


Matthew Green said...

There's a good Wikipedia page on the Curse of the Colonel:

Robert Hudson said...

As I should have mentioned, but was in a hurry to get out of the house, I first heard this story from my Japan correspondent Matthew Green in 2003 or at latest 2004, when the Tigers were preparing to enter their first pennant race since 1985. They lost to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks; Colonel Sanderses around the country had to be locked up for their own protection.