Tom McKee, a member of the Toronto Blue Jays inaugural TV broadcast team, died on Monday at age 76.
He passed away at the Southlake Regional Hospital in Newmarket, Ont., after a lengthy illness.
Best known to baseball fans for his work on Jays’ telecasts – first on camera and later as a producer – McKee was a regular at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s Celebrity Golf Classic in St. Marys, Ont., in its early years.
Reportedly raised in Ingersoll, Ont., McKee’s first broadcasting gig was at CKOX radio in nearby Woodstock. He was a rising talent at stations like CFCF-TV in Montreal and CFPL-TV in London before becoming a national star on CBC.
On CBCSports.ca on Wednesday, broadcasting veteran Scott Oake remembered McKee as one of the network’s best commentators.
“He was smooth and he had a great sense of humour,” Oake told CBC Sports.
McKee would later leave CBC to work as a producer on Labatt’s Blue Jays telecasts.
“I worked for Tom as a cameraman on Blue Jays telecasts for years,” recalled Christian Dahl, in offering his condolences on Legacy.com. “His love of the game was always paramount, and I loved being part of his team. So sorry for the loss of a real pioneer in television.”
McKee also blazed a trail for Blue Jays’ TV telecasts at the SkyDome – or as it’s now known the Rogers Centre – during the club’s heyday.
“Tom was an integral part of the start up of Dome Productions,” wrote Mary Ellen Carlyle in an entry on Legacy.com “He gave all of us a chance and many of us started on ‘Tom produced’ Blue Jay telecasts.”
On top of his work in baseball, McKee also covered the Olympics, Pan Am Games and Commonwealth Games and was a mainstay on CBC CFL broadcasts.
“Tom was fun to be around,” Oake told CBC Sports. “I remember at the ‘76 Olympics in Montreal, Tom’s room was where everyone met. Some nights it was like a small casino. Tom, as one of the [CBC’s] best commentators, called the high-profile field events at those Games. You can still hear his voice on [Canadian] Greg Joy’s silver medal win in the high jump. I lost track of Tom when he left the CBC for Blue Jays baseball, but the few years I was around him made a lasting impression.”
McKee is survived by his wife, Joan, six children and 16 grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, November 9 at 2 p.m. at the Chapel Ridge Funeral Home in Markham, Ont.
For more information and to offer online condolences, follow this link: http://www.chapelridgefh.com/condolences.php