First Blue Jays broadcaster Chevrier found dead at 69

Updated: December 18, 2007, 11:44 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Don Chevrier, a longtime broadcaster who called several Olympics and the Toronto Blue Jays' first game, has died. He was 69.

Chevrier was found Monday at his home in Palm Harbor, Fla., according to his daughter, Melanie. The cause of death was not immediately known.

"He had one of the more recognizable voices in all broadcasting, never mind just sports," Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey said Tuesday.

Don Chevrier
AP Photo/Steve NesiusDon Chevrier spoke at the memorial service for longtime Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek.

Chevrier worked on television and radio for several networks, including ABC, NBC, ESPN and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., he called the USA-USSR "Miracle on Ice" hockey game for ABC Radio.

One count had Chevrier's broadcast resume at 21 sports, including team handball at the 1976 Olympics.

"We were saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and universally respected colleague Don Chevrier," said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports and Olympics. "As anyone who knew him can attest, Don was one of the true gentlemen in our business. Our condolences go out to his family. Don will be sorely missed."

Chevrier called the Blue Jays' opener in 1977 and did his best to make games sound exciting during their inaugural season.

"It's a sad day for the Blue Jays," Godfrey said. "I remember Don as the first TV voice of the Blue Jays and one of the pillars of the organization when it first started.

"When the team loses 100 games in its first year, the TV broadcaster has to make sure the fans keep coming back even though they were outclassed by most of the opposition."

Chevrier's death came a little more than two years after beloved Blue Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek lost his battle with cancer.

"It's just such a shock," Melanie Chevrier said Tuesday night. "It was definitely unexpected."

During the 1970s and '80s, Chevrier covered some of boxing's biggest bouts, often with Howard Cosell on ABC's "Wide World of Sports."

Chevrier did play-by-play on "Monday Night Baseball" for ABC Sports, NHL games for ESPN and other networks (including Ottawa Senators games), CFL games for CBC and ESPN, and USFL games for ABC Radio.

He spent more than 20 years on radio covering the Kentucky Derby, 14 years as the television voice of curling in Canada, and was the longtime host of ABC Radio's "World of Sports" show.

His first Olympics was in 1972, when he hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for CBC and called hockey from Sapporo, Japan.

With NBC more recently, he covered curling at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games and table tennis, badminton and synchronized swimming at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Gord Ash, the former Blue Jays general manager who is now an assistant GM with the Milwaukee Brewers, grew up in Toronto watching CFL games called by Chevrier.

"I knew the voice before I knew the person," Ash said. "The voice was so dramatic and authoritative and you just felt whatever he was trying to convey, no matter what sport he was doing at the time. It sent a powerful message.

"You don't see that much anymore, there's such specialty now. You don't see a guy cross over as much as he did."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press