Cheek tribute video wins IDEA award

by on July 20, 2013

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* Tom Cheek in one of the best pictures we’ve ever seen of him, turning around from his work station in the SkyDome inside the broadcast booth on the 300 Level. A tribute video of Cheek shown opening night and again when the Cheek family was honoured last month won a Golden Matrix award at the IDEA conference in Montreal. …. 

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By Bob Elliott

Tom Cheek finally won the Ford C. Frick award Dec. 5 in Nashville.

His wife, Shirley Cheek, was asked what her late husband would say, had he been alive for the news?

“Tom would have said ‘there are so many people more deserving than I,’” Shirley said.

Saint Shirley is an excellent public speaker but she needs new material before stepping to the podium at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown to accept the Frick award in her husband’s memory, a week from Saturday.

In the previous seven months, Cheek has been inducted into the Vermont Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, won the Frick, been inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys and now comes news he has won again.

The Tom Cheek tribute video the Jays scoreboard gang put together has won a Golden Matrix award for best over-all sports tribute video at the Information Display Entertainment Association (IDEA) conference in Montreal. It was on the Jumbotron opening night and again when Shirley and children Tom, Jr., Lisa and Jeff Cheek were honoured,

IDEA members from the NFL, NBA, NHL, CFL, U.S. colleges, the minor leagues and baseball submitted 305 scoreboard videos in seven different categories.

The Cheek video was put together by Marnie Starkman, director of game entertainment, Daniel Joseph, stadium entertainment and Ryan Stone, motion graphics editor.

“In our submission we explained to the judges the significance of 4,306,” said Starkman, of Cheek’s consecutive-game streak which last 27 years.

The captivating 2 1/2 minute video shows exactly zero highlights of past Jays.

“We wanted the video to be Tom’s voice, for people to take a seat and listen,” Starkman said. “Daniel and Ryan deserve all the credit.”

Joseph and Stone have been with the Jays for four years. Neither one ever met Cheek.

Yet, their passion for the project equalled what Cheek brought to the park each night, spending 40 hours searching through tape, coming up with the top eight calls of the 4,306 regular season and 41 post-season games he worked.

Pictures of Cheek and newspaper clippings form the background but what draws the eye is the four blue and white numbers in the video.

“It’s like a digital alarm clock,” said Joseph, “like the one in Ground Hog day.”

After Stone’s graphics asks viewers to sit back and LISTEN, the parade of game clips of Cheek’s calls begin and after each one the numbers spin.

Game 0001 April 7, 1977: “One ball, one strike, Doug Ault gets into one, Ault has electrified this crowd.”

Game 1399 Oct. 5, 1985: “Ron Hassey, fly ball to left, George Bell is there, Bell has it, he drops to his knees. The Blue Jays are going to the post season!”

Game 4250 Sept. 23, 2004: “Swing and a drive, up and gone, off Windows Restaurant. Carlos Delgado has hit his 300th homer.”

Game 2048 Sept. 30, 1989: “The 1-2 pitch, strike three, the final out, the Blue Jays are going to the American League Championship Series.”

1992 ALCS Game 6: “The 2-2 pitch, Oakland leading 6-4. There’s a drive to right. Robbie Alomar has just tied this one up.”

1992 World Series Game 6: “There’s a bunted ball, first base side, Mike Timlin to Carter and the Blue Jays win it! The Blue Jays win it! The Blue Jays are World Series Champions!”

Game 2183, Sept. 2, 1990: “Junior Felix has it, Dave Stieb has pitched his first no hitter.”

1993 World Series Game 6: “A swing and a belt! Left field! Way back! BLUE JAYS WIN IT! The Blue Jays are World Series Champions as Joe Carter hits a three run home run in the ninth.”

The Cheek video beat out the San Francisco Giants video on the making of their 2012 World Series rings and the Hamilton Tiger Cats’ tribute to Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Starkman, Joseph and Stone have done tribute videos before: Alomar’s Hall of Fame election; Cito Gaston was elevated to the Level of Excellence, the anniversary’s of Stieb’s no hitter, a joint Pat Gillick-Alomar of the Cooperstown-bound duo and one really bad one on a ball writer (although in fairness, they didn’t have much to work with there).

And next on Sunday will be Delgado as he takes his place on the 300 Level beside Cheek in left field. The other players are Tony Fernandez, Carter, Bell, Stieb and Alomar, along with Gaston, Gillick and president Paul Beeston.

All will be at Rogers Centre Sunday save for Carter and Stieb.

Shawn Green, Alex Gonzalez, Jose Cruz and Candy Maldonado will be there.

Originally, the format on the Cheek vid was chronological.

“We did a re-cut, listened to this one and the games in order,” said Joseph, “there was no comparison. ‘A Swing and a Belt,’ that was his signature call.

“We wanted to highlight his voice.”

It’s a voice we keep hearing all this week.

Bob Elliott
Bob Elliott is the founder of the Canadian Baseball Network. He is also a baseball columnist for the Toronto Sun, Sun Media and a frequent guest on The FAN-590. He was born in Kingston, Ont. If you want to know anything and everything to do with the Major Leagues, Minor Leagues or amateur baseball in Canada - Bob is the man to talk to.

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