Original Jays broadcaster dies at Oldsmar home

By wire services
Published October 10, 2005

OLDSMAR - Tom Cheek, who called every game in Blue Jays history until last year, died Sunday at his home after a battle with brain cancer. He was 66.

He was best known for his streak, which ended at 271/2 seasons June 3, 2004, because of his father's death. He called 4,306 regular-season games in a row, plus 41 in the postseason, since the Blue Jays began playing in 1977.

"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," Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey said in a statement.

He is survived by his wife, Shirley, their three children and seven grandchildren.

Valentine ready to talk

NEW YORK - If the Devil Rays are interested in bringing Bobby Valentine back from Japan, the veteran manager said he would be honored to talk about it.

Valentine, managing Chiba Lotte to a first-round playoff win Sunday, wrote in response to an e-mail from the Times: "It is an honor to be considered for a job with a team with this fine young talent."

Valentine, 55, had a 1,117-1,072 record in 15 seasons as a big-league manager, eight with the Rangers and seven with the Mets, finishing second four times. In 2000 he took the wild-card Mets to the World Series but lost to the Yankees.

Some Japanese media reports Sunday said Valentine intends to return to the Marines in 2006 for the final season of his three-year deal, but his contract reportedly contains a clause allowing him to go back to the major leagues.

New Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg, president Matt Silverman and other officials attended many Mets games and may have grown familiar with Valentine's work there, or at least curious enough to see how he'd fit in their organization.

Valentine said he didn't know the Rays officials personally, but "I have heard they are made of the right stuff and are going to do things the right way."

--Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.