Travis Hafner enjoyed a 12-year career in Major League Baseball, the best of the seasons (10 in all) spent wearing a Cleveland Indians’ jersey.
In a four-year stretch from 2004 through 2007, Hafner was one of the most feared batters in the game, hitting 127 home runs and collecting 434 RBI. The 2006 campaign was Hafner’s finest as he smacked 42 homers and drove in 117 runs. He led the American League in slugging percentage (.659) and was so hot in August that he was not only voted a player of the week honor, but player of the month, as well.
Baseball is a game of numbers, and Hafner, who split time between first base and being a designated hitter, has them by the bushel basket.
He was the first player in MLB history to hit five grand slam home runs before the All-Star Game (2006), and remains tied for the most grand slams in a season by hitting six, again in 2006.
Hafner twice finished in the Top 10 for MVP voting, polling fifth in 2005.
In 2002, his first year in the majors as a Texas Ranger, eventual teammate Bill Selby (then a member of the Indians) gave Hafner his nickname. It was “Pronk,” a combination of him being a project as well as a critique of the way he rambled around the bases. “He just looked like a Pronk,” said Selby.
Tribe fans will fondly remember Hafner driving in the winning run in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the 2007 ALDS, also known as the “bug game.” It featured a 10-minute swarming invasion of midges that may have contributed to New York Yankee reliever Joba Chamberlain uncorking two wild pitches, one that lead to the Indians tying the game before Hafner’s heroics.
Hafner ranks eighth on the Indians all-time home run list with 200 blasts. Another of his greatest nights with the Tribe came on Aug. 13, 2003 when he hit for the cycle against the Minnesota Twins.
Hafner and his wife, Amy, and their three children, Blake, Trip and Knox, live in Avon Lake.