The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Osaka, Japan, issued a travel warning advising Taiwanese visiting the city to avoid crowded places if the Hanshin Tigers win Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball final tonight.
The travel warning came as police stepped up security around the city, deploying 1,300 police in expectation of a Hanshin Tigers victory in the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Central League.
Hanshin Tigers fans have a notorious reputation for fanaticism that borders on violence. While fights occasionally break out among themselves, or against supporters of other teams during games, the main concern this evening is accidents or damage due to overexuberance.
A victory tonight would be the first in time the team has clinched the title in 18 years. The last time the Tigers broke an 18-year drought, in 2003, 5,300 fans jumped into the Dotonbori Canal. One man died during celebrations that year when he fell from the Ebisu Bridge, according to The Mainichi newspaper. The Hanshin Tigers went on to win the title again in 2005, but have failed to repeat the feat since.
A local legend blames the team’s lack of success to “The Curse of KFC Grandpa.”
When the Hanshin Tigers won the Japan Series in 1985, fans chose from among themselves people who resembled players in the victorious team to jump into the Dotonbori Canal. But they couldn’t find anybody who resembled the bearded, white, American first baseman, Randy Bass.
So the overexuberant fans stole a statue of Colonel Sanders from a KFC restaurant, and threw the statue into the canal from a bridge. Thus the first 18-year drought began.
The top half of the statue was eventually discovered during construction of a boardwalk in 2009. The bottom half and one hand was found later, and the semi-restored statue now stands at Japan’s KFC headquarters in Yokohama.
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