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Friday, June 2, 2006
Welcome to Pronkville

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- First a candy bar, now an imaginary city. Pronkmania is running wild.

Travis Hafner's catchy nickname has spawned a new creation: "Pronkville," a mezzanine section in right field of Jacobs Field where Cleveland's designated hitter has launched some of his longest home runs.

"It's cool," Hafner said. "I was pretty happy about the T-shirts they made up. They fit into my wardrobe nicely."

The Indians will officially dedicate "Pronkville" next Wednesday for a game against the Oakland Athletics, and give all fans who purchase tickets in the section free black "Pronkville 48" T-shirts.

Hafner didn't know the exact number of seats in the area bearing his nickname but guessed that it's population was probably larger than Sykeston, N.D., where he has a home and is the most famous of the town's 154 residents.

"It's probably bigger than Sykeston," he said.

Earlier this season, the "Pronk" chocolate bar made its debut in Cleveland stores, another sign of Hafner's growing popularity and rising profile among Indians players.

Hafner doesn't know what to make of all the attention, and even admitted being slightly embarrassed by it.

"I think it's more that fans really like our team, they like the way we play," Hafner said. "We're kind of a blue-collar, hard-working team and I think the fans can really relate to us."

Hafner, who got his nickname -- it's a combination of part project, part donkey -- from former teammate Bill Selby, may not be the Indians' most popular player. That honor goes to outfielder Grady Sizemore, whose loyal legion of fans includes "Grady's Ladies," a group with its own Web site.

Could "Pronk's Ladies" be next?

"I don't know about that," Hafner said. "I heard there were "Hafner's Honeys" out there one night, though."