By Perry Lefko
So what’s it like being Don Cherry’s son? For Tim Cherry, who has been a sounding board for projects involving his father as well as actively participating in them as a writer, it’s an interesting question.
In fact, the 54-year-old, who has been living in Mississauga since 1982 and has a home just around the corner from his father, is often asked that.
“When people ask me that I say I don’t have a reference not being his son,” Tim said. “It’s been great. It’s always been positive. An awful lot of doors have been opened for me because of dad. Sometimes he’s tough to work with – working with family is never easy – but I’ve always enjoyed it. I still see him every day. We still go out and watch junior hockey together.
“In January, we are going to Tombstone, Arizona to see the OK Corral because he’s a big Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday fan. I find myself very lucky that dad is still active and I can still do a lot of things with him.”
The two collaborated on the popular Rock’em Sock’em videos, which ran for 30 years. A decision was made in 2018 to end the series.
“Just the way technology has gone and things are more digital,” Tim said. “People are streaming stuff and there’s just so much more available to them highlight-wise. We were kind of the last ones doing the DVDs and it’s just getting more and more difficult to get them into the retailers.”
The elder Cherry has a book, Hockey Greats And More, that was released in the fall of 2018 and has done well. Tim said his father might have one or two more books in him that he’d like to do. Tim is involved in the process, culling material from his father’s former TV series, The Grapevine.
“What happens is dad and I will kind of go over who we want to talk about and I’ll think of some of the stories he talked about with his guests and talk to dad about that,” Tim said. “He talks into the tape recorder and tells the stories and I kind of expand on the stories. He’s done five books and this is the second one I’ve worked with him on and that spans about four years.”
Tim said there’s a strategy he works with his father in terms of branding. It began with a highlight show Tim did with his father, called This Week In Hockey, more than 30 years ago on a sports channel in New York that no longer exits.
“Dad and I have done a lot of his shows and a lot of his media together,” Tim said.
The projects included two biopics – The Wrath of Grapes, The Don Cherry Story and Keep Your Head Up, Kid, The Don Cherry Story – that Tim helped to produce and/or write. Tim had background in the media having gone to Mohawk College for TV broadcasting and said that helped him with the Rock’em Sock’em technology. When his father was coaching the Colorado Rockies in 1978-80, Tim learned editing working as an intern with the local ABC News affiliate.
Tim said he knows what his father does and doesn’t want to do in terms of projects offered to him.
“I found that when people try to do things with dad, they try to make him do things that don’t fit his brand,” Tim said. “We’re always saying, ‘Dad, wouldn’t say that’ or ‘Dad wouldn’t do that. That’s not who he is.’ I think he feels comfortable with me because that’s always my first priority when I’m looking at stuff. I think that’s one of the reasons he likes working with me, I have his interests first. I really don’t bring anything to him that I know just wouldn’t be worth doing because it’s not something he would believe in.
“Dad makes his decisions on what he does and what he doesn’t want to do and how much he wants to get paid and I just helped to facilitate that.”