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Fun Pronk Facts and Anecdotes

Travis Hafner FactsI was watching the Indians/Rangers game on TV tonight thanks to the Extra Innings package. The game was being televised on FSN Southwest, meaning Josh Lewin was the announcer. Since the Indians were the visiting team, Lewin was giving a lot of information about the Indians players. Most notably, he gave some great stories about one of my favorite players, Travis Hafner — Pronk. As he was a few minutes into the life history of Pronk, I began to realize that he was probably getting the information from one of my favorite sites, Player Profiles. So, of course I logged onto Pronk’s player profile page, and now I have a whole bunch of cool Pronk Facts and anecdotes to share with you.

  • Travis grew up on a farm in the Midwest. It was in rural Sykeston, North Dakota, where his family leased a 3,500-acre portion of a 10,000-acre spread to grow wheat, barley, flax, corn, sunflowers and beans. But, he admitted, “I hated any kind of farm work. I always got stuck with the jobs my father and my brother didn’t want to do.”
  • The closest “real town” to Sykeston, is Jamestown, a city of 21,000 in eastern North Dakota — where the biggest attraction is the National Buffalo Museum. Until Hafner graduated from high school, Jamestown was the biggest metropolis he had encountered.”Hey, there’s a mall and a Wal-Mart. By North Dakota standards, that’s pretty big,” he said “How big is Sykeston?” Hafner said. “I’d say about 180. It’s really more of a wheat field. There were 23 people in my high school (grades 9-12) and eight in my graduating class.”
  • Travis was the valedictorian of his graduating class, with a 3.99 grade-point-average.
  • “Back in high school, the career counselor would ask what you wanted to do for a living, and I’d say, ‘Play baseball.’ It was always my first love. But the counselor would say, ‘You can’t play baseball.’ He’d tell me I had to have a real job, so I had to pick a backup.” And what was that? “I’d tell him WWF wrestler,” Hafner said.
  • On occasion, during the 2004 season, Hafner could be seen wearing a T-shirt around the Indians clubhouse that said on the front: “I’m not very smart, but I can lift heavy things.”
  • In April, 2006, the first “Pronk Bar” was unveiled. Travis had a candy bar named after him. What does a Pronk Bar taste like?”Probably the best candy bar you’ll ever taste,” said Hafner.

And of course, you might be wondering the background to his nickname — Pronk.

  • His teammates nicknamed him “The Pronk.” Hafner said, “Part project, part donkey.” Hafner explained further: “In spring training, Bill Selby called me The Project. Other guys called me the Big Donkey. One day, Selby put the two words together. For a while it had a Spanish flair, El Pronko.”

That’s some seriously good stuff right there. He grew up in a town of 180! His high school class had eight people! And we all know where the donkey portion of his nickname too. He puts quite a kick on the ball I’m sure.

Indians Players Are Easily Amused

Yes, I realize that clubhouses are like big-kid summer camps, only full of 20 and 30 something year old players rather than 12 year-olds. Yes I realize they play cards and drink, and gamble, and do exactly what 25 men do when they’re hanging out together for months at a time. But this? Did I ever expect this to be a form of entertainment for players? Not at all — unless they’ve been stealing toys from their 5 year-old kids.

The diversion of choice in the visitors’ clubhouse at Angel Stadium this week has been a tiny toy helicopter that flies through the air at the command of a remote control device.

Several players, including Victor Martinez and Franklin Gutierrez, have been enamored with the LittleBee Helicopter, flying it around the clubhouse and performing dive bombs into unsuspecting teammates.

What’s next, remote controlled cars? Micro-machines? My goodness. How old are these guys? Outfielder Trot Nixon was right on when he said that the players were easily amused. Very easily. I can’t IMAGINE why they lost 8-0 on Thursday. No clue.