Cheek broadcast 4,306 consecutive Toronto Blue Jays games from April 7, 1977 to June 2, 2004. He was also in the booth for all 41 of the franchise’s post-season contests, including Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, which inspired his most famous call. After Jays slugger Joe Carter clubbed his World Series-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth, Cheek quipped, “Touch’em all, Joe. You’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.”
Prior to landing with the Jays, Cheek, who was born in Pensacola, Fla. in 1939, served as a backup broadcaster for the Montreal Expos from 1974 to 1976. His rich, soothing baritone earned him a reputation as one of the best play-by-play men in the business and in 2001, he was rewarded with the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Jack Graney Award for his significant contributions to baseball in Canada. In June 2004, Cheek missed his first Blue Jays’ game in order to attend his father’s funeral. Shortly after his return, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
In August 2004, Cheek’s name was added to the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence, and the following year, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame created the Tom Cheek Media Leadership Award in his honour. He was the inaugural recipient of the award that has since been presented annually. For more than a year, Cheek waged a valiant battle against brain cancer, before he passed away on October 9, 2005. This July, Cheek will be honoured with the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s prestigious Ford C. Frick Award, an accolade handed out annually to a broadcaster who has made major contributions to baseball.