August 14, 2003 – Travis Hafner Hits for Cycle Just Before Widespread Blackout
The Indians were wrapping up a mid-week series in Minneapolis with a Thursday-afternoon getaway game. Even for dedicated fans, most people are not engaged with the game in real-time. Despite the history-making moments in this game–not many Clevelanders remember it–likely because not many of them even saw the highlights.
Brian Anderson was matched up with Brad Radke of the Twins in the Metrodome. Travis Hafner opened up the scoring with a solo home run on Radke’s first pitch of the at-bat. It was a towering drive to right that landed somewhere in the “baggy” covering the collapsible seating sections used for Vikings games. At the middle of the second inning the Tribe were up 1-0.
In the top of the third, Casey Blake bounced one into the seats and scored Jhonny Perralta with the ground-rule double.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Hafner slapped a bouncer over Brad Radke on a check swing. The ball found its way between the second baseman and shortstop. As it dribbled into the outfield, Pronk raced around first, and slid into second for a double.
Anderson scattered just five hits through the first six innings and the Twins never really threatened.
The Tribe broke things open in the top of the seventh when Hafner chopped one in front of the plate and beat Matt LeCroy’s throw to first. The catchers throw sailed past the first baseman and Hafner took second on the throwing error–but was credited with a single.
Josh Bard bunted Hafner over to third. He then scored on a ground-rule double by Jhonny Perralta. The Tribe would add three additional runs in the seventh to bring the lead to 6-0.
After another 1-2-3 inning by Anderson, Ben Broussard led off the Indians half of the eighth with a single. Ryan Ludwick struck out swinging and brought Hafnet up with a shot at the record books. Not known for his speed–clearly a triple would be a tall order for Hafner. He sent a line drive into the right-center gap, perfectly placed between the outfielders. It skipped to the wall on the Metrodome turf. Torii Hunter fielded the ball up against the wall and double-clutched before hitting his cutoff man. By the time the relay came to third, Hafner was in safely with a head-first slide.
Anderson eventually gave up a home run to Matt LeCroy and was chased from the game. Reliever David Cortes gave up two additional runs while closing out the bottom of the ninth, but was more than serviceable in getting the Tribe to the 8-3 victory.
Hafner’s final line was 4 hits, 2 RBI in 5 plate appearances. His mother, Bev had driven 400 miles from Sykeston North Dakota to see her son at the nearest ballpark. Hafner was the seventh Indian to hit for the cycle to date. Rajai Davis and Jake Bauers have done it since.
The game in Minnesota ended when it was 3:36 p.m. in Cleveland. Around 3:10, various transmission lines and substations in the First Energy system began tripping off. At 4:09 all Cleveland Public Power customers were completely in the dark. Eventually, over fifty-million people in eight states and parts of Canada would be without power.
With Clevelanders scrambling to empty fridges, locate flashlights, procure generators, or drink beers with their neighbors under the stars few were paying attention to the sports day’s highlight reel and so Hafner’s cycle became a bit of trivia that escaped the memory of many.