04/19/2002 10:26 AM ET
Fans chat with Tom Cheek
By John Matthew IV / MLB.com
Tom Cheek, the Voice of the Blue Jays, has been broadcasting Blue Jays games since the Original Opening Day in 1977--he has not missed a game since. On April 23, he joined fans for an online chat.
Moderator: Welcome to our chat with Tom Cheek.
Tom Cheek: Hello everybody. It is a nice day here in Arlington, Texas, and I hope it is equally nice wherever you are.
Tom Morris: For how long have you known your broadcast partner Jerry Howarth?
Cheek: Jerry and I are in our 21st year together. I did not know him before I started working with him. I knew of him. He had inquired about doing Jays games from the beginning. My first broadcast partner was Early Wynn. He was with me until 1981. Early went to the Chicago White Sox to finish his broadcasting career.
Martin Nemec: Mr. Cheek, could you pick the most memorable game (or moment) from Blue Jays history for you?
Cheek:I think that would be in the eye or the ear of the beholder. In 1985 the Blue Jays won their first ever AL East championship. In 1992 they won their first World Series. Of course there was Joe Carter's home run in 1993 to win the World Series for the first time on Canadian soil. But for me, the most memorable game was on April 7, 1977 when I was able to broadcast the historic first Blue Jays game ever. That was a personal moment that is at the head of my list for Blue Jays moment.
Tom Morris:How does it feel to have been the only person to be at every single Blue Jays game?
Cheek:I feel very fortunate because I have been physically able to witness every Blue Jays game. So I thank the good Lord for the good health. There were times when the smart thing would have been to go down for the count. I came back from Sarajevo in 1984 with walking pneumonia for a few weeks. I have had my bouts with bad pipes. There are days when I don't feel well but I get to the ballpark and it all comes around. Also many games you are on the road and you are better off to be in the clubhouse where there are trainers and medical staff.
Martin Nemec: If you had to choose just one player to vote to the Toronto Blue Jays Hall of Fame, how would you vote and why?
Cheek:Very good question. Very difficult question. But based on his productivity over the time he was with us and the time he has spent in the game, I think that Roberto Alomar is probably the greatest player at his position that we have ever have wear the Blue Jays uniform. They used to say that Sugar Ray Robinson was pound-for-pound, ounce-for-ounce, the greatest fighter of his time. Alomar is not the biggest or the fastest, but pound-for-pound, ounce-for-ounce, he is the best we have ever had at his position.
TBJAmiga: How much pregame prep work do you have to do for each game before we hear the familiar "Hi everybody, This is Tom Cheek"?
Cheek:It started this morning on my computer, surfing newspapers and baseball related websites. After this chat, I will head to the ballpark and it will continue right up to game time, with a short break to eat. I will check in with the clubhouse, checking today's lineup, I will go to the dugout and talk to a few people and do a pregame interview. Then I return to the booth to fill out my scorecard and review the stats and stories for both the Rangers and Blue Jays. You have access to so much information today, you are silly not to take advantage of it.
Martin Nemec: How do you like the current Blue Jays team? Don't you think it would be wise to add at least one experienced veteran to starting rotation which is kind of struggling now?
Cheek:Good point and I agree to it wholeheartedly. I am not privy to any deals they are trying to make. I am certain the search is on going. It is clear to everyone that the pitching is sub par at the moment. And I am sure the front office is trying hard to rectify the situation. Pitching is the toughest commodity to come by in the game. You never have enough. Everyone is looking for it. Everyone is well aware of the predicament that the Blue Jays are in. Therefore, they will try to exact the highest price possible in any deal that the Blue Jays will try to make for pitching. Hopefully, in time, the situation will rectify itself. No one expected the loss of three veterans: Loaiza, Parris and Sirotka. Or the time Chris Carpenter spent on the DL. But no one feels sorry for you because injuries and downtime for players are a fact of life in the game. Everyone has to deal with it.
GiantsChris: What did you like best about Exhibition Stadium?
Cheek:I liked it because it was home for the Blue Jays and it gave the city an opportunity to have a franchise. I always thought because of weather conditions and other factors that it gave the Blue Jays a little edge, not too many people look forward to coming to Toronto and playing there. I think that reluctance on their part played against them and into the Blue Jays hands, a psychological edge. All of that having been said, I have never understood the knock on SkyDome because it provides all the comforts of home and was one of the contributing factors to great players wanting to come to Toronto and play for the Blue Jays.
MarthaV: What was your favorite baseball team when you were a kid?
Cheek:My favorite baseball team when I was a kid was the Boston Red Sox because of Ted Williams, maybe the greatest hitter who ever lived.
Cheek:Thanks for the great questions. I have to get over to the ballpark now and bait the trap.
Moderator: The chat is over now. Please join us in two weeks for the next Blue Jays chat. Our guest then will be Cito Gaston.
John Matthew IV is the Marketing Producer for bluejays.com. He serveThis story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.