Dave Wills who entertained and educated Rays baseball fans from his seat in the broadcast booth died suddenly of yet to be announced causes. Wills and his unmistakable booming voice had been part of the Rays radio team with his partner Andrew Freed since 2005.
“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,” Freed wrote on Twitter with a photo of the two in the booth. “It always felt like we were actual brothers. Will miss him forever. Love to him and his family.”
“Shocking, sad, heartbreaking covers all of it,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who the Tampa Bay Times said visited Wills’ family Sunday before returning for the game. “You have a choice to certainly think about the sadness of it, but you can also think about the person that he was and what he meant to all of us.”
The Tampa Bay Rays are deeply saddened to announce the passing of longtime radio announcer Dave Wills.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 5, 2023
A beloved figure throughout the Tampa Bay community and Major League Baseball, he will be missed dearly. pic.twitter.com/k9iiQOsL4u
Wills, a Chicago native, was part of the White Sox radio team for 11 years before joining the Rays.
“Dave was an outstanding broadcaster, a great friend and an even better person,” Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. “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.”
As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times noted, Wills had missed the final two weeks of the regular season last year after being hospitalized in Toronto. He was later diagnosed with arrhythmia. Wills eventually returned to his perch in the announcing booth for Tampa Bay’s postseason series. He had even called Tampa Bay’s game on Saturday, a 14-10 exhibition-season victory against the New York Yankees.
The Rays canceled Sunday’s radio broadcast for their game against the Baltimore Orioles. They’re expected to pay tribute to Wills’ life and career during the regular season