Hanshin Tigers

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Hanshin Tigers.png

Japan Series Titles: 2 (1985, 2023)

Central League Pennants: 5 (1962, 1964, 1985, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2023)

Franchise Players: Minoru Murayama, Masayuki Kakefu, Gene Bacque, Yutaka Enatsu, Randy Bass

Current Manager: Akinobu Okada

Stadium: Hanshin Koshien Stadium

Team History[edit]

Founded in December 1935, the Hanshin Tigers participated in the first season of Japanese pro baseball and have remained in the league since. Originally based in Osaka, they now play in Hyogo. The team's fans, the Torakichi, constitute one of the most-dedicated sets of fans in Japan.

The Tigers won the 1936 spring championship, making them the first pennant-winners in Japanese pro baseball history. They won 4 of the next 12 titles but struggled after 1947. In 1950, Nippon Pro Baseball went to a 2-league arrangement. until the end of the 2010s, Hanshin made 6 trips to the Japan Series - in 1962, 1964, 1985, 2003, 2005 and 2014 winning the Series for the first and only time in '85. The ace of the 1964 team was American Gene Bacque, who went 29-9 to become the only foreign player to ever win the Sawamura Award. In 1985, the team was again led by a foreigner, 1B Randy Bass, who won a Triple Crown and was MVP of the Japan Series. The excitement of the first title in 21 years led the Hanshin fans to throw a statue of Colonel Sanders into the river, presumably under the idea that the statue resembled Bass, which it clearly did not. After that incident, the team seemingly became the victim of the Curse of Colonel Sanders.

In 2003, Hanshin finally found their way back to the Japan Series for the first time since the sinking of the statue, behind the play of MVP Kei Igawa, batting champ Makoto Imaoka, SB leader Norihiro Akahoshi, sluggers George Arias and Tomoaki Kanemoto, closer Jeff Williams and good starting pitchers (Trey Moore, a resurgent Hideki Irabu and Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi). Hanshin lost the first two games of the Japan Series but won the next two on a sacrifice fly and a homer in the bottom of the 10th. They dropped games 6 and 7, though, costing them the title.

Two years later, in 2005, Hanshin returned to the Japan Series, but they were swept by the Chiba Lotte Marines, who outscored them 30-2 in the first three games before a close 3-2 finale for a 33-4 differential in the total series. They made another unsuccessful Japan Series appearance in 2014, where they lost to the SoftBank Hawks in five games, before finally winning their second championship in 2023. That time, they beat the Orix Buffaloes, their Osaka rivals, in a series that went to the limit in seven games and it finally put an end to the curse.

Lifting of the Curse?[edit]

Statue of Col Sanders found in the mud

The famous bust of Colonel Sanders was found in the mud of the Dotonbori, a river of the city of Osaka, in March 2008 during a construction project. The rest of the statue was later found (the statue having broken into two sections). Fans of the Tigers hoped the curse would finally be lifted. [1] [2] It took another fifteen years for Hanshin to win a second championship, however, so the benefic effect - if any - was not immediate.



Further Reading[edit]

  • Matt Monagan: "The baseball team cursed by Colonel Sanders: The Hanshin Tigers could finally break the KFC hex this year", mlb.com, November 3, 2023. [1]

New Team Hanshin Tigers
1961 - present
Osaka Tigers
1947 - 1960
1940 (midseason) - 1946
Osaka Tigers
1936 - 1940 (midseason)
Current team name