On April 4, 2005, I wrote about Tom Cheek calling the fourth inning of the Jays opener in Tampa Bay. I wrote about it because it was surreal... almost as if it was out of a movie. I had no idea at the time that it would be the last inning of Blue Jays baseball Tom Cheek would ever call.
Here's what I wrote that day, followed by actual audio of his call of Orlando Hudson's home run. There's a reason I titled this entry "Emotional Rescue".
It was like a scene out of a movie, only it was very, very real. I was listening to the radio call of the Blue Jays opener against the Devil Rays when the Rays came to bat in the third. Joining Jerry Howarth and the rookie in the booth was a very familiar voice. It was Tom Cheek.
His voice was a little off and he was slightly shaky, but that tone was there. That baseball sensibility and love of the game was evident in every syllable uttered, every sentence strung together. In the top of the fourth, with the Blue Jays at bat, the emotional storybook moment occurred.
Against all odds, Tom Cheek took over the booth and began calling the game. The Jays had gone nine up and nine down up to this point, but with Cheek in control less than two weeks after very serious brain surgery, you knew something magically was going to happen. Right on queue, Frank Catalanotto hit a double for the Jays first base runner. Then, with Cheek still at the helm, Orlando Hudson went deep. "How about that!" was Cheek's reaction as Vernon Wells came to the plate. What did Wells do? He clobbered a homer deep to left. The Jays were in the lead for good.
The last voice I expected to hear on the radio today was that of Tom Cheek. His body is weakened but his love of baseball is strong. His role behind the microphone was minimal but for that half inning in the fourth he was back and the Jays were in charge.
It was damn sweet.
Here's Tom Cheek calling Orlando Hudson's home run that April 2005 day in Tampa.
If you missed it, Tom Cheek has posthumously won the Ford C. Frick award for broadcasting excellence. It was well deserved.