Long time Toronto Blue Jays radio broadcaster Tom Cheek has won the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 2013 Ford C. Frick Award. It was long overdue, but I am extremely happy for the Cheek family and baseball fans everywhere that Tom now has a home in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
Cheek was the ironman of brodcasters. He called every single Blue Jays game from the first one in snowy Exhibition Stadium in 1977 until June 3, 2004, when took a few games off following the death of his father. His streak of 4,306 consecutive regular season games has been commemorated on the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre since 2004. His streak also includes 41 postseason games--every single one the franchise has ever participated in. Of course, it was in the last of those 41 playoff games when he made his iconic call after Joe Carter hit a homer to win the 1993 World Series:
"Touch 'em all, Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!"
Unfortunately, a week after his streak ended, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had to undergo surgery. He called a handful of games after that, and a single inning in 2005, but his cancer returned. He passed away at 66 on October 14, 2005.
Tom and his partner Jerry Howarth were the voice of baseball in my youth. I remember having the radio on in bed on school nights as they called the last few innings of east coast games or the first few innings of west coast games. I have missed hearing his voice dearly. He was very special to many Canadians, and that's why he had been finishing at the top of fan voting for the Frick award for many years. Unfortunately, every year we were disappointed as the selection committee chose someone else for the award.
Finally, Cooperstown did the right thing. Thanks, from all of us who still hear Cheek's voice in our minds.