Brain cancer takes Cheek, who called every
Jays game until '04
Oct. 9, 2005
Copyright 2004-2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
TORONTO -- Tom
Cheek, who called every game in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays until
last year, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 66.
Cheek, who died at his home in Oldsmar, Fla., was best known for his streak,
which ended at 27½ seasons on June 3, 2004, because of his father's
He called 4,306 consecutive regular-season games, plus 41 more in the
postseason, since the Blue Jays began playing in 1977.
"It's difficult to put into words the overwhelming sense of grief
and loss shared today by the Blue Jays family, the city of Toronto, the
extended community of Major League Baseball and its many fans," Blue
Jays president Paul Godfrey said in a statement.
"Tom Cheek has provided the soundtrack for the most important moments
in this team's history, with his choice of words and intonation always
perfectly suited for the occasion.
"He was far more than just an outstanding announcer though. He was
a great goodwill ambassador for baseball in Canada. His love for the game,
which radiated through his words on the radio, captivated fans across
this country and helped to grow the sport from one coast to the other."
Shortly after his father's death, Cheek was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
He had partially successful surgery to remove it last June 13, 2004, his
65th birthday. He underwent chemotherapy afterward and returned to call
some games, while fighting short-term memory loss.
On Aug. 29, 2004, Cheek was honored by the Blue Jays with his induction
into the Level of Excellence, the club's highest award for individual
achievement. Cheek became just the seventh inductee and only the second
member of non-uniformed personnel so honored.
In this past year, Cheek was named as one of ten finalists for the Ford
C. Frick Award, recognizing baseball broadcasting excellence and carrying
with it induction into the Hall of Fame.
Cheek was in good spirits this spring and was to be back in the booth
in 2005 until a second round of cancer hit him in the spring.
A straight-shooter who was friendly, charming and sincere in person, Cheek
was the same on the radio, avoiding gimmicks and catchphrases.
His knack for capturing the moment was best demonstrated by his call on
Joe Carter's 1993 World Series winning home run -- "Touch 'em all
Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life."
That became his calling card.
Cheek, who was born June 13, 1939, in Pensacola, Fla., is survived by
his wife, Shirley, their three children and seven grandchildren.