Longtime Tampa Bay Rays’ radio announcer Dave Wills passed away this morning at age 58, the team announced. Wills has been a voice of the Rays since 2005, teaming with partner Andy Freed to work in alternating play-by-play/color roles for the last 18 seasons.
Dave was an outstanding broadcaster, a great friend and an even better person. He had a remarkable talent for bringing the game to life for our fans and was a vital part of the Rays family. We will miss him dearly and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.— Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg
Wills called Saturday’s Spring Training contest against the New York Yankees with Freed.
Yesterday was like every other day for the last 18 years. Sharing. Laughs. Baseball. Fun. No way to know it was the last time. Sadness beyond words today.— Andy Freed
Wills started his career as a baseball coach at Elmhurst College and the University of Chicago before taking on play-by-play duties with the Kane County Cougars. His other responsibilities included pregame and postgame duties for Notre Dame football and basketball, as well as White Sox baseball.
Wills suffered a heart arrhythmia toward the end of the 2022 season, although he soon returned to the booth. The Rays will honor Wills with a special pregame tribute at some point during the 2023 season.
If I may, my favorite Dave moment — there were many, many memorable Dave moments — came in 2019. Seven friends and I celebrated my bachelor party in the Left Field Ledge, at the Trop. Amongst all the free beer, booze, hotdogs, and popcorn was Dave, calling the game on location in left field. Andy was in the booth. I was start-struck and did not even dare to make eye contact with Wills, one of my favorite baseball announcers. Every time he looked away, I looked in his direction, then just as quickly turned away if he even caught a glance of me looking on. Upon retrospect, I wish I had said something.
X-Rays Spex would like to send our condolences to the Freed family, Rays Radio, the Rays organization, and the Rays republic writ large. Dave, rest in power — you will always be remembered as one of the greats.