* Matt Brotzel (Saskatoon, Sask.) a hip-hop artist, who writes as RationaL has compiled a tribute to Cheek entitled “A Swing and a Belt.” .... MLB, Brewers open workouts 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors 2013 Canadian collegians playing summer ball 2013 Canadians in College Letters of Intent
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RationaL: A Swing and a Belt
By Bob Elliott
The city of Saskatoon has showed its passion for the Blue Jays before.
Philadelphia’s Broad Street didn’t have disturbances on Oct. 23, 1993.
Toronto’s Yonge Street had a parade of honking horns and flag waving for four or five hours after Joe Carter took Mitch Williams downtown.
And on Eighth Street in Saskatoon ... a riot began, the only one in North America.
Published reports say an estimated 4,000 people gathered as 27 cars were damaged at a Honda dealership, 10 windows were smashed at Fuddruckers, gas pumps were vandalized, picture windows shattered at A&W before an 18-man riot squad used tear gas and pepper spray.
And now 20 years later from Saskatoon comes the ultimate tribute to Tom Cheek, whose wife Shirley accepts the Ford C. Frick in memory of her late husband four days from now at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown.
Matt Brotzel, an award-winning hip-hop artist, who writes as RationaL (@thinkrash), has written a tribute to Cheek entitled “A Swing and a Belt.”
It’s not Neil Diamond, whose songs Cheek used to sing on charters, walking SkyDome hallways or when dew was on the grass in Dunedin.
It’s not George Strait.
What it is, is excellent.
Is chilling too strong a word when you hear Cheek’s voice?
RationaL’s lyrics are outstanding, almost as if Brotzel was in the dugout as an eight-year-old bat boy for Game 6 or grew up so close to the park he could hear the roar of the 50,000 fans each night.
Fact is, he has never seen the Jays play in Toronto, although he’s been them at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg since his parent’s friends own a house and they often make September visits to Florida.
“I didn’t become a hard-core Jays fan until 1994, so I missed out on the glory years,” said Brotzel, who admits he watched the World Series DVDs.
Once or twice. Or maybe 100s of times.
RationaL had to, to come up with lyrics like:
“One team, one color, brought a country together
I’ll never forget it, “Winfield wants noise!”
Who knew feeling ‘blue’ could bring so much joy?
Devo on patrol looking like Willie Mays
Bob Davidson blew it, we knew it’s a triple play
Guzman the jheri curl, Gruber the mullet.”
His first glove was a blue Rawlings Juan Guzman autographed model.
“Some of my best memories are my dad (Lanny) working a 24-hour shift as a fireman, coming home, not even kicking his feet up and taking me out to the ball park to hit me ground balls and throw to me.”
Once again the game is passed from father to son.
“It’s about the Blue Jays, but it’s about Tom Cheek, I’m so passionate about him,” said the artist, of Cheek who died in 2005. “I don’t want his memory to be lost amongst young people,”
And so he took pen in hand, had the tracks mixed and mastered ... but it’s the words:
“Fantasy roster, seven All-Stars
I swear this team was sent from the heavens above
Second to none, Dad and I, we watched it all
Those bats on fire like a Beeston cigar
W.A.M.C.O., that acronym everyone ought-a-know
White, Alomar, Molitor, Carter and Johnny O
.400 flirting, hotter than a smoked-out soufflé.”
In 1994, Brotzel played for the Saskatoon Blue Jays as a nine-year-old.
That same year Saskatoon gained a franchise in North Central League, an independent loop, playing against the Regina Cyclones, three Minnesota teams, the Brainerd Bears, Minneapolis Loons and the Marshall Mallards and the Huron Heaters from South Dakota.
Saskatoon’s team was nicknamed the Riot of course. He got to know Riot infielder Mark Cole, who took him to see the Danny Glover movie Angels in the Outfield. Cole was an extra playing left field in the moive and Cole’s name showed on the credits, along with former big leaguers Carney Lansford and Mitchell Page.
“SkyDome, 50,000, every single night
Now, each spring hopes eternal, through the summer and fall
Together just like Joe, we’ll be “touching ‘em all!”
I can still hear the roar, what a joyous thunder
Baritone in my stereo, that voice of summer
Playing in my loudspeaker
Heavens got an angel in the outfield.”
This long-distance Cheek fan has been hoping that his edition of the Jays would provide post-season play that wasn’t on a DVD.
“I was so excited, I needed to put this into a song, the rest is history,” he said.
Shirley Cheek heard the song and passed it on to her three children who e-mailed back “Dad is now on RAP and HIP HOP, imagine that!”
As RationaL wrote:
“Got a whole country dreaming
Never forget, the first time I heard it myself
I’ll never forget that, “Swing and a Belt!”