Cheek one of 10 finalists for Frick Award
Late great Jays broadcaster on ballot for fourth year in a row
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the fourth year in a row, longtime Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek was named a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award.
Presented annually since 1978 for excellence in baseball broadcasting, the Frick Award is given to an active or retired broadcaster with a minimum of 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service with a ballclub, network or a combination of the two.
The Frick Award is named after the late broadcaster, National League president, Commissioner and Hall of Famer. Frick was a driving force behind the creation of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and he helped foster the relationship between radio and the game of baseball.
The list of nearly 200 broadcasters eligible for the 2008 Frick Award was whittled down to 10 on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. The other nine finalists for the honor include Bill King, Joe Nuxhall, Dizzy Dean, Joe Morgan, Tony Kubek, Dave Niehaus, Dave Van Horne, Graham McNamee and Ken Coleman.
Cheek, who passed away in the fall of 2005 after a 16-month battle with brain cancer, became Toronto's first radio voice during the club's inaugural season in '77. Cheek helped strengthen the relationship between Blue Jays fans and the team by broadcasting 4,306 consecutive games during one amazing stretch.
"Tom Cheek has provided the soundtrack for the most important moments in this team's history," Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Godfrey said at the time of Cheek's passing. "He was far more than just an outstanding announcer, though. He was a great goodwill ambassador for baseball in Canada."
Cheek, who called all 41 of Toronto's postseason games and both World Series wins in 1992-93, also spent time broadcasting Montreal Expos games from 1974-76. In 2004, Toronto honored Cheek by elevating him to the Level of Excellence -- the club's highest distinction.
In 2005, the Canada Sports Hall of Fame established the Tom Cheek Media Leadership Award, which recognized an individual who promotes Canadian sports in an enduring way. Fittingly, the Hall of Fame named Cheek its first recipient of the honor.
Cheek isn't the only one on the ballot with a Blue Jays connection. Former Toronto broadcaster Tony Kubek made the short list -- he worked for 30 years after his playing career was over, and almost half of that time was spent in Toronto.
The final 2008 Ford C. Frick ballot included three selections by fan voting -- Nuxhall, King and Morgan -- and seven compiled by a Hall of Fame staff research team. The Frick electorate includes past recipients, historians and writers appointed by the Hall of Fame.
Results of the 2008 election, to be determined by the Frick election committee, will be announced on Feb. 19. The 2007 recipient was longtime Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.