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Still smiling after 24 years in the ooze

HE was covered in mud when pulled from the river, and had lost both legs and hands, not to mention his glasses. But Colonel Sanders still had his trademark smile, 24 years later.

A statue of the KFC mascot has been found in a river in Osaka, Japan, a city official said yesterday, nearly a quarter century after being tossed in by baseball fans who felt that the image of restaurant founder Harland Sanders resembled a key member of their team.

The statue was taken from a nearby KFC restaurant and tossed in the river as part of a celebration by baseball fans in 1985, the year Osaka's baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, won the national championship.

Local fans thought that the Colonel bore a resemblance to Randy Bass, a bearded power hitter and first baseman from the United States who played for the team.

Fans often jump into the murky river to celebrate the team's successes, but there has been little to celebrate in recent years. Many fans feel the team has been plagued by the "curse of Colonel Sanders" since his effigy was submerged in 1985.

A diver checking for unexploded bombs from World War II in the river as part of a clean-up found the Colonel on Tuesday.


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