10:07 AM Central
One of these years, I’m going to get to write an article that celebrates Tom Cheek winning the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence, and that describes the excitement of all Blue Jays fans in anticipation of seeing him inducted into the broadcasters’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York the following summer.
Not this year, though, as the Frick committee – in its infinite wisdom – decided to bestow the 2012 honour on FOX television broadcaster Tim McCarver. It’s the third time in four years that the award has been won by a high-profile national broadcaster, the only exception being last year’s deserved win for Dave Van Horne, who I thought was going to add some sanity to the voting process (and to his credit, he’s probably trying – he only has one vote out of 20).
As time passes, it seems apparent to me that the Frick Award should be renamed the “Ford C. Frick Award for Excellence in Broadcasting for a team based in the United States” because it remains ridiculous that Tom Cheek has yet to be honoured. Would any U.S.-based broadcaster who was heard from coast to coast, had a streak of 4,306 straight games (plus Spring Training and playoffs) and called post-season and all-star games for at least 10 straight years not have been honoured by now? The answer has to be a pretty obvious yes.
Still, the overwhelming sentiment seems to be that Tom’s time will come, that it’s just a matter of waiting until his turn comes up. Just no one seems to know when that will be.
I’m a little conflicted by my disappointment, though. The time to give Tom the Frick Award was 2004, when we all knew that he was dying and when he’d have been around to enjoy it. If you know he deserves it, and he’s going to get it eventually, then it borders on cruel to bypass a dying man, much like the Hockey Hall of Fame did with Pat Burns. If he didn’t win it then, it almost doesn’t matter when he wins it – except, of course, for Mrs. Cheek and the kids and grandkids, and the entirety of Blue Jays Nation that waits patiently and votes passionately every year.
I guess it’s nice that since Tom passed away, there hasn’t been a posthumous winner of the Frick Award, that each winner has been able to go to the induction ceremony at Cooperstown.
Tom Cheek meant so much to so many for so long. His was the voice that brought big-league baseball to Toronto, that brought summer to an entire country year-in and year-out for 28 years. He never sought accolades, he was modest to a fault, and he saw himself as just another guy who went to work every day. An entire country of Blue Jays fans loved him for that.
Even though it feels as though we’re just tilting at windmills, we will continue to fight the good fight again next year and try just as hard as ever to make the Frick committee see the light and finally give Tom Cheek the recognition he deserves. I hope you’ll all be with me.
And hey, at least with Bob Elliott winning the Spink Award yesterday, we’re batting .500!
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome!