Tom Cheek Remembered

Tom Cheek's Definitive Moment

MP3Checking my referral log I see many of you are here with the same heavy heart I carry. Tom Cheek has passed on and we're all looking to relive those glorious memories he provided.

There's no debate as to which call was his definitive masterpiece. It was the bottom of the ninth inning at Skydome, game six of the World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies. Mitch Williams is on the mound, Joe Carter is at the plate, there are two on and the Jays trail by one. Without further adieu, enjoy Tom Cheek's definitive moment...

Discuss "Tom Cheek's Definitive Moment" (0 comments so far)

Rest in Peace

In MemoriumTom Cheek was 66. He was the beloved broadcaster who became the voice of baseball in Canada and called an incredible 4,306 consecutive Blue Jays games from Bill Singer's first pitch on April 7, 1977 until last June 3, when he skipped a game in Oakland because of his father's death.

I understand this page is highly ranked for many Google searches regarding Tom. He meant a great deal to so many of us and already I see a multitude of hits from people seeking more information about the voice of Blue Jays baseball and his extraordinary career in broadcasting. Over the past couple of years I've spent a great deal of time thinking about what he meant to me and why he was so special. Please take some time to read the following nine entries which nicely surmise the tremendous effect his voice had on my life.

This one hurts. We'll miss you Tom and we will never, ever forget you.

Discuss "Rest in Peace" (0 comments so far)

Thinking About Tom

BluejaysThe excitement surrounding the pennant races in Major League Baseball this season has me thinking back to the good ol' days when our Toronto Blue Jays were perrenial contenders. For two October's in the early 90s they ruled these parts stealing our hearts with back-to-back World Series Championships. I lived and died with the Jays and that meant spending hours and hours with the soothing voice of Tom Cheek.

In 1983 I heard a Blue Jays radio broadcast at a cottage way up north and I was instantly hooked. The voices calling the game were Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth and they painted a romantic picture starring a young, up and coming team that was playing through five years of expansion pains. Tom Cheek, I would later learn, called the first Jays game on April 7, 1977 and didn't miss a single one until June 3, 2004 when he missed two games to attend his father's funeral. That was 4,306 consecutive regular season games and 41 post-season games, but Cheek wasn't about quantity. He was is all about quality. He combines a tremendous knowledge for the game with brilliant broadcasting instincts and a classy yet folksy demeanor. Jerry Howarth had the signature calls like "hooking...hooking..." and "there she goes..." but Cheek was Blue Jays baseball. He was my teacher, explaining the finer details such as when to hit and run and when to gamble by stretching a double into a triple. In Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, he called the biggest play in Blue Jays history with "Touch 'em all Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!" All a Jays fan has to do is close his or her eyes and hear Tom Cheek say that line and a smile is guaranteed.

This isn't my first entry celebrating Tom Cheek and what his role in the broadcast booth has meant to me. Every night, summer after summer for over a decade was spent either watching the Jays or listening to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth. They were my eyes. Here are previous entries about the great Tom Cheek:

Tom isn't doing very well these days. His condition has deteriorated and some say he's in his final days. On April 4th I heard Tom call parts of the Jays' season opener, keeping alive a streak of 28 consecutive home openers he's called. I remember getting misty eyed when he exclaimed "How about that!" following Orlando Hudson's home run. Vernon Wells was next to the plate and promptly hit another out, putting the Jays ahead for good. It was as if the players knew Tom was calling that half inning, his last half inning.

I'm thinking about Tom today. I'm remembering the good times with a smile before shedding a tear at the thought I may never hear him again. I already miss him like crazy.

Discuss "Thinking About Tom" (0 comments so far)

Emotional Rescue

RadioIt 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.

Discuss "Emotional Rescue" (4 comments so far)

An Unfillable Hole

RadioI've got my Freeplay Ranger tuned to The Fan 590 right now. It's something I've done hundreds and hundreds of times in my life. I'm listening to Blue Jays baseball on the radio.

There's a gaping, unfillable hole in this broadcast. The voice of Tom Cheek is noticeably absent. Sadly, Tom's brain tumour requires very serious surgery this coming Wednesday and he's busy fighting that battle we all hope he'll win. The broadcast booth once again lacks his awesome presence.

I've written about Tom Cheek many times. You can read these entries here, here, here, here, here and here. His calls of Blue Jays games are so awesome they're partly responsible for my life-long love affair with the sport of baseball. He and his partner Jerry Howarth are the voices of Blue Jays baseball and when one is missing there's an gaping, unfillable hole.

Get better soon Tom. You're greatly missed. I and thousands and thousands of Jays fans will be praying for ya.

Discuss "An Unfillable Hole" (0 comments so far)

We Need Murray Eldon Now More Than Ever

Blue JaysI'm pissed. I just learned that Paul Godfrey fired long time public address announcer Murray Eldon.

I've never attended a Blue Jays game without hearing Eldon's sweet voice announcing the batters. If I close my eyes I can still hear his signature deliveries for Damaso Garcia, Willie Upshaw, Alfredo Griffin, Tony Fernandez and Jesse Barfield. In the 90s, you knew you were home when he announced Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor and John Olerud. As much as Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth represent the sound of Blue Jays baseball on the radio, Eldon is the sound of Blue Jays baseball at the old Exhibition Stadium and Skydome. Now, he's been told his services are no longer required.

First, they took the "blue" out of the Blue Jays by redesigning the uniform so there's no sign of the word "Toronto", no maple leaf and no "blue". Then, they renamed Skydome, another sure sign that they care very little for the history of this franchise. And now, they've done away with their excellent public address announcer of 27 years to move in a different direction. I'm sure the new voice will be edgy and hip and awful.

We need Murray Eldon now more than ever. We need to retain a semblance of our glorious past, years when we were annual contenders, winning pennants and filling the dome. We must not alienate the die hard fans, those who have loved Blue Jays baseball for years.

I already miss Eldon, but I have 27 years of memories to get me through many a future summer. Now batting for your Toronto Blue Jays, #1, Murray Eldon.

Discuss "We Need Murray Eldon Now More Than Ever" (14 comments so far)

The Thrill of the Grass

Blue JaysInhale deeply, close your eyes and listen closely. Can you hear it? I hear wind rustling between long blades of grass while the crack of the bat echoes in the background. There's the sound of ball on leather and a crowd erupting in cheer following a two-bagger for the home team. And then, there's one of my favourite sounds in the world. The sound of Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth calling Blue Jays baseball.

A smile creeps upon my face when I think about turning on my radio and hearing those two describing a ball game. Their tones have been bringing me baseball for as long as I can remember. A glance at the Spring Training schedule reveals the Jays battle the Minnesota Twins tomorrow in Fort Myer to begin their Grapefruit schedule. Soon the season will start afresh with a clean slate. We're tied in first and right with the Yankees and Red Sox. It's a time of optimism and hope. It's time for Tom and Jerry.

Go Jays Go.

Discuss "The Thrill of the Grass" (0 comments so far)

Sportsnet Choice Obvious

Sportsnet Choice ObviousRogers Sportsnet's play-by-play and analyst tandem took a sad hit last October when John Cerutti passed away and yesterday they announced Rob Foulds won't be back either. That means we'll have an entirely new duo calling Jay games on the television next year.

To me, the ideal team is rather obvious. They've been working together for as long as I can remember and nobody calls a better game. I often turn the sound down on my television just to hear them. They represent all that is glorious about Blue Jays baseball and hearing their voices harkens one back to the good ol' days. I'm speaking, of course, about Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth.

The only downside to this is that putting Tom and Jerry on Sportsnet would take them off the radio. That's why I think this is the one time simulcasting the same call on both mediums makes sense. Nobody calls a game as well as these two do.

Discuss "Sportsnet Choice Obvious" (0 comments so far)

The Season From Hell

The Season From HellThe Toronto Blue Jays played their final game of the 2004 season yesterday, losing 3-2 to the New York Yankees. Good riddance to bad garbage. The 2004 season was the season from hell for my Blue Jays. I've been following this team closely since 1983 and no other season comes close to matching this one in terms of pure crapola.

First there's the record. The Blue Jays finished 67-94. That's good for last in the American League East, 33.5 games out of first. Prior to this season, I predicted we'd finish third again as we had each of the previous five seasons. It seems I set the bar too high and we actually fell to the basement. 67 wins is horrible and finishing beneath the Devil Rays in the East is sickening.

Secondly, there's the injuries. Our ace and last year's Cy Young award winner, Roy Halladay, was shelved for much of the season while Vernon Wells and Carlos Delgado, the heart and soul of the offense, were on the DL for extended periods of time.

Thirdly, there's Carlos Delgado and his imminent farewell. I watched the ninth inning of yesterday's final game and saw Delgado in the on-deck circle when Wells flew out to end the game. I was hoping for one last at-bat, one final swing from Delgado in a Blue Jays uniform. It's a virtual certainty that he'll sign with another club this off season. We've seen the last of this awesome batter and all-around good guy. He leaves us as the franchise leader in home runs with 336, RBIs with 1058, runs with 889, doubles with 343 and total bases with 2786. It seems that every time I attended a game at Skydome he'd hit one over the wall. I'm glad James had a chance to see #25 while he was here. He even went deep.

Finally, there are the tragic events that plagued this Blue Jay season that cemented it's status as the season from hell. Tom Cheek battled a malignant brain tumour and had to miss a great deal of the season. Cheek has always been the real voice of the Blue Jays. Then, just yesterday, John Cerutti passed away at the Skydome hotel. A healthy 44 year-old who was scheduled to analyze the season finale for Sportsnet, Cerutti's death was quite the shocker and a tragic end to the Blue Jays' season from hell.

The one bright spot is the fact the 2004 season from hell is finally over. Go Jays Go in 2005!

Discuss "The Season From Hell" (0 comments so far)

Tom Cheek

Tom CheekThe Blue Jays lost again last night 11-5 against the Boston Red Sox at the SkyDome. We're 53-74 and last in the AL East, 25.5 games back of the Yanks. It's been the season from hell, but there is a silver lining...

I can still turn on the radio and hear Tom and Jerry call the game. Tom Cheek is back and that's just awesome.

Discuss "Tom Cheek" (0 comments so far)

Previous 1 2 3 4 Next

Want more Toronto Mike blog entries? Visit the archives.