We did it!
For the last eight weeks, I have been reminding you in this space, on the radio and on Twitter to cast a daily vote for Tom Cheek in fan balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award for Broadcasting Excellence, and you did a wonderful job.
The final results of fan balloting have been announced, and Cheek finished at the top of the list. Behind him was the late Bill King, voice of the Oakland Athletics, and former Expos’ broadcaster Jacques Doucet.
I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to cast a vote for Tom, whether you did it once or whether you did it 100 times — every little bit helped, and now it’s in the hands of the Frick committee to see if the man who has meant so much to Blue Jays fans for so long gets the honour he has richly deserved for a long, long time: His very own plaque in the Broadcasters’ Wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
The Frick committee is composed of the 16 living recipients of the award and five baseball historians (Bob Costas, Barry Horn, Stan Isaacs, Ted Patterson and Curt Smith). They will get a ballot with 10 names on it, the top three voted by the fans and seven others selected by the Hall of Fame, choose their winner and mail in their ballot.
From what I’m led to understand, they rarely discuss their choices with one another nor is any lobbying done within the group, though I hope that has changed now that Dave Van Horne — for whom Tom was the back-up announcer with the Expos in the mid-70s — has a vote.
The other seven names on the ballot, by the way, are Ken Coleman, John Gordon, Graham McNamee, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon and Dewayne Staats.
Canada has been recognized by Cooperstown over the past couple of years, and it’s a trend that we hope continues this winter. Van Horne, the long-time voice of the Expos, won the Frick Award two years ago, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun took his place in the writers’ wing by winning the J.G. Taylor Spink Award last year. Perhaps this year will make it a trifecta so that there doesn’t have to be another campaign for Cheek again next year.
I have wondered if perhaps Van Horne wasn’t elected in order to pave the way for Tom a little bit. Not that Van Horne isn’t completely deserving (he is), but it’s a thought that perhaps the committee felt that giving the award to Cheek before they gave it to Van Horne, who worked ahead of Tom, wasn’t the right thing to do. Now that Van Horne is in, Tom can be as well.
There are four criteria that the voters are asked to consider, and Cheek gets a gold star in every one of them. They are: Longevity (28 seasons, stopped only by brain cancer), continuity with a club (4,306 consecutive games from Day One until a week before his diagnosis), honours, including national assignments such as the World Series and All-Star Games (Tom broadcast every game nationally, and was doing World Series and all-star games across Canada long before the Blue Jays ever made the Fall Classic. And honours? He’s on the Level of Excellence!) and popularity with fans (hello — top three in fan balloting every year that fans have been allowed to vote, including first at least two of the last three years).
There are many deserving candidates, and every Frick voter I have ever spoken to says that Tom’s time will come, but that there’s no one on the list who doesn’t deserve to be in there. I say Cheek has waited long enough, and your votes have said the same.
Thank you all again so much for taking the time to make your voices heard. The winner will be announced during the winter meetings, which will take place in Nashville from December 3-6.