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