The guys at Drunk Jays Fans, one of the city’s better sports blogs, are kick-starting a grassroots campaign to have former Blue Jays play-by-play man Tom Cheek awarded the Ford C. Frick Award. The award, which is given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame for “career excellence in baseball broadcasting,” is the equivalent of being inducted into Cooperstown. Throughout September, fans can pick their top three broadcasters from a huge list of nominees, and the top vote-getter will be included on the final ballot voted on by the Hall of Fame selection committee.
Cheek’s most famous call—”Touch ‘em all Joe…you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life” [mp3]—from the 1993 World Series cemented his place as a Toronto institution. Already a member of the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre, Cheek called every game from the Blue Jays’ first game on April 7, 1977 until his father’s death—and his own ill-health—forced him from the booth on June 3, 2004. That’s an astonishing streak of 4,306 consecutive games (and 41 playoff games). He succumbed to cancer in October 2005.
Cheek has been a finalist for the Frick Award in every year since polling fans for nominations began in 2004, but his elevation to baseball’s highest honour for broadcasters is long overdue. When voting, you’ll find plenty of candidates with Toronto affiliations—including Cheek’s long-time partner in the booth, Jerry Howarth—to fill out your top three.
Photo by Triborough from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.