Legendary sports broadcaster Don Chevrier passes away
Don Chevrier, a popular sports announcer best known as the original television voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, died on Monday.
He was 69.
Chevrier, who was born in Toronto but lived in Palm Harbor, Fla., suffered from a blood disorder and was recently admitted to hospital before being released a few days later.
Tom McKee, who worked with Chevrier on Blue Jays' telecasts during the club's inaugural season in 1977, spoke with his former broadcast partner this past Saturday before he went into the hospital.
"He was a great broadcaster and a great friend. I'll miss him very much," McKee told CBCSports.ca.
Blue Jays chief executive officer and president Paul Godfrey told CBCSports.ca "it was such an honour to have Chevy as the Blue Jays' first television broadcaster."
"When you really think about the Blue Jays, Don Chevrier being the first on air TV broadcaster was a part of the foundation of the club," said Godfrey, who helped bring the club to Toronto.
"You don't get them any better than Don Chevrier. He had one of the most distinguished and recognized voices in all of broadcasting, never mind sports," added Godfrey.
A legendary figure in Canadian broadcasting circles, Chevrier amazed colleagues and television viewers alike with his unique voice and encyclopaedic knowledge of sports.
"I first met him when I began my career in the early 1970s and the thing that immediately struck me about Chevy was his voice. That voice of his was just incredible," current CBC Sports broadcaster Steve Armitage said.
"Don Chevrier is a hero in our business. We're a country that doesn't celebrate our tradition and our excellence, and in the broadcasting business, Don Chevrier stands alone," said Brian Williams, a former CBC Sports announcer who now works with CTV.
Chevrier was known for his versatility during his lengthy broadcasting career, as he called football, baseball, curling, hockey, golf, boxing and Olympic sports for the CBC and other networks.
Current Hockey Night in Canada analyst and former NHL goalie Greg Millen worked alongside Chevrier for three seasons calling Ottawa Senators' games in the 1990s and also worked with him at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
"He will go down as one of those Canadian icons in broadcasting. There's no doubt about it," said Millen, who credits Chevrier for helping him break into the broadcasting business.
Millen said he was often in awe of Chevrier over his photographic memory and ability to retain mountains of information.
"He was a very talented broadcaster who could do any sport and was as steady as could be," said Millen.
When Chevrier was in Toronto last month for the Grey Cup game, he attended a dinner celebrating the launch of the CBC Sports Hall of Fame and was interviewed by CBC Sports for a feature on the network's history of broadcasting CFL games.
"Don was the smoothest in the business and a great storyteller," said Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports.
"I was with him during Grey Cup week. He had dinner at my table at the CBC Hall of Fame dinner. He was in fine form telling great stories from back in the day. It was a shock to hear that he had passed away."
Chevrier, who was inducted into the Canadian Media Hall of Fame in October 2004, began his broadcasting career at 16, calling high school sports on the radio in Edmonton.
From 1972 to 1981, he was co-host of CBC-TV's Curling Classic program on Saturday afternoons, worked on the CBC Radio broadcast for the famous Muhammad Ali-George Chuvalo fight in Toronto in 1966, and called CFL football games in the 1970s for CTV.
In 1977, Chevrier became the original television voice of the Toronto Blue Jays as the club played its first Major League Baseball season. Chevrier spent the next two decades calling Jays' games.
He was also a contributor to ABC's Wide World of Sports program throughout the 1980s, primarily covering boxing.
Along with longtime broadcast partner Don Duguid, Chevrier called curling at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, for NBC.
Chevrier was expected to work for NBC at the Beijing Olympics this summer.