Shirley Cheek to accept award for husband and Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek

Shirley Cheek, the widow of Blue Jays play-by-play man Tom Cheek, accepts the Ford C. Frick Award...

Shirley Cheek, the widow of Blue Jays play-by-play man Tom Cheek, accepts the Ford C. Frick Award on his behalf at Cooperstown on Saturday. (Milo Stewart Jr./Baseball Hall of Fame)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:08 AM ET

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - The first time young Shirley Cookman saw the tall airman was at an American Legion dance in Plattsburg, N.Y.

He was the skinny guy with his short friends.

Sitting at the edge of the dance floor, Shirley turned to her friends Elsie and Beverley, who had made the drive south from Henrysburg, Que., and said over the noise of the live band:

“Look at him! He thinks he’s God’s gift to women, chin pointed up, surveying the crowd. He looks like he thinks he’s pretty important.”

A year later the two — young Shirley Cookman and young Tom Cheek — went on their first date ... in a way.

Cheek phoned up six girls and invited them to the 1958 New Year’s Eve dance at the Saxony Hotel in Grosse Point, Vt.

“We were all on a party line then, he didn’t think we’d all say yes, it started out as a prank,” said the woman known as Saint Shirley. “He had to call his friends to bail him out.”

Cheek took turns dancing with one girl, then the next.


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