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Cheek named Frick Award winner

12:40 PM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Legendary Toronto Blue Jays voice Tom Cheek has been selected as the 2013 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually for major contributions to baseball broadcasting.

Cheek, who passed away in 2005, will be honored as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2013 from July 26-29 in Cooperstown.

"Tom Cheek was the voice of summer for generations of baseball fans in Canada and beyond," said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. "He helped a nation understand the elements of the game and swoon for the summer excitement that the expansion franchise brought a hockey-crazed nation starting in the late 1970s. He then authored the vocal narrative of a team that evolved into one of the most consistent clubs of the 1980s and 1990s. We are thrilled to celebrate Tom's legacy with baseball broadcasting's highest honor."

Cheek, who called the first 4,306 regular-season and 41 postseason games in Blue Jays history, becomes the second Frick Award winner whose career came primarily with a Canadian team, following Dave Van Horne's selection as the Frick Award winner in 2011. Van Horne spent parts of four decades broadcasting Montreal Expos games.

In 1974, Cheek began work as a backup announcer to Van Horne on Expos broadcasts. Then in 1976, at the age of 37, he landed the job as the radio voice of the expansion Blue Jays. Paired first with Hall of Fame pitcher Early Wynn and later with Jerry Howarth starting in 1981, Cheek's rich baritone voice and his passionate-yet-lighthearted approach to his job dazzled fans eager to embrace Toronto's new role as an American League outpost.

His call of Joe Carter's World Series-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1993 Fall Classic -- "Touch 'em all Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life." -- quickly became embedded in the sports conscious of Blue Jays fans around the globe.

Cheek called every regular season and postseason Blue Jays game from the franchise's birth on April 7, 1977 through June 2, 2004. The next day, Cheek took the first of two days off to attend the funeral of his father. But upon his return, Cheek sensed he was not right physically when he was unable to retain information he had read only minutes earlier. On June 13, 2004 -- his 65th birthday -- Cheek underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor, but some of the tumor was unreachable.

A little more than a year later, Cheek passed away on Oct. 9, 2005.

Other finalists included Ken Coleman, Jacques Doucet, John Gordon, Bill King, Graham McNamee, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon and Dewayne Staats.

Previous winners of the Frick Award include legendary names such as Mel Allen, Red Barber, Russ Hodges, Ernie Harwell, Vin Scully, Jack Buck, Lindsey Nelson, Harry Caray, Dave Niehaus, Harry Kalas, Bob Uecker, Tony Kubek and Jon Miller. Tim McCarver was honored last year.

The Sports Network

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