Blue Jays' Broadcaster Tom Cheek Up For Frick Award

By tomsanders
John E. Sokolowski – US Presswire

Fan voting for the 2013 Ford C. Frick Award has begun,  and will continue through October 9.

The award is given each year to one current or former MLB broadcaster, for “major contributions to baseball.”

Fans may vote, once per day, via a link on the Baseball Hall Of Fame Facebook page.

Toronto Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek is on the list.  It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t already won.

Your Jays’ Writer heard Cheek call that first ever game,  played in snow and freezing rain at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on April 7, 1977.

He went on to call 4,306 consecutive regular season Jays’  games, a streak often compared to Cal Ripken’s games played string, and almost twice as long. He was mikeside for the Jays’ World Series wins in 1992 and 1993, and for many fall classics heard throughout Canada — and in border towns like Detroit —  on the Hewpex Sports Network.

His streak ended on June 3, 2004, the last Friday of a home stand, when he left the team to attend his  father’s funeral.

The next Tuesday night, at the start of a west coast road trip, we tuned the Jays game and learned, via Cheek’s  long-time broadcast partner Jerry Howarth, that he had left again due to an undisclosed medical condition. Later that  summer, it was revealed that the condition was cancer.

Cheek called a few home games at the end of ’04, and some the next spring in Florida, but didn’t sound the same.

His passing, on November 15, 2005, stunned the baseball  world. He was only 66.

It rocked those of us who had been Jays fans since day one. You couldn’t think of Blue Jay baseball on the radio without thinking of Tom Cheek. Speaking of major contributions to baseball.

On the Level Of Excellence at Rogers Centre, where former Jays are honored, with their uniform numbers, is a sign reading 4306 CHEEK. The number of games being the day the streak ended, 6-03-4, reversed.

Another honor — a plaque in Cooperstown — remains long overdue for Canada’s baseball Voice Of Summer.

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