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This Day in Cleveland Indians History: Pronk walks it off

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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Travis Hafner was a Cleveland Indians fan favorite. He hit 200 home runs here. 12 were grand slams and three were walk-offs. On July 7, 2011 he did both.

How could you not love Pronk? Travis Hafner was a 31st-round pick by the Texas Rangers. On December 6, 2002 the Cleveland Indians pulled off one of their best thefts ever, sending catcher Einar Diaz (and pitcher Ryan Drese) to the Rangers for Hafner (and pitcher Aaron Myette).

Personally I liked Hafner because he seemed like an everyday guy. Can’t field well enough to play?  Neither can I! Slow runner? I’m slow too! Hit a crap ton of home runs? I’m slow too!

Ten seasons and 200 home runs later he was an Indians legend.

12 of his home runs were grand slams. Three were walk offs. And on a magical July 7 night in 2011, he did both.

July 7, 2011 – Blue Jays at Indians

For eight innings, Blue Jays pitchers Carlos Villanueva, Mark Rzepczynski(!) and Jason Fraser held the Indians scoreless. At the start of the ninth inning it was up to Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco to get the last three outs and preserve the 4-0 win.

How about this for a blast of obscure names from the past? Travis Buck singles, Matt LaPorta doubles, Jack Hannahan walks.

Bases loaded, no outs, and Michael Brantley up. The Rangers opt for lefty Luis Perez. The strategy looks good as Brantley strikes out swinging.

Buck, LaPorta and Hannahan successful and Brantley not successful. To this point it’s bizarro world.

Asdrubal Cabrera singles to short left, scoring Buck. Now it’s bases loaded and one out for Hafner.

Hafner wasn’t hopeless against lefties. But he murdered right-handers. Especially in 2011, when he had an OPS of .886 against right-handers vs. .638 against lefties.

But 93-mile-per-hour fastballs over the heart of the plate didn’t work against Pronk. Not from a righty, not from a lefty, not ever. But that’s what Perez threw. And that’s what Pronk hit deep into the right field seats.

Next: Stars that can replace LeBron on the banner downtown

Indians 5, Blue Jays 4.

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