Dave Wills, one-half of the Tampa Bay Rays’ radio broadcasting team for the past 18 seasons, died in the early morning of March 5, according to a team news release.
Wills, who lived in Lutz, joined the Rays in 2005, along with partner Andy Freed, and were fan favorites and considered one of the top radio duos in Major League Baseball.
“Dave was an outstanding broadcaster, a great friend, and an even better person,” Rays principal 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.”
Wills, who was 58 at his death, lived in the Heritage Harbor community, off Lutz Lake Fern Road.
During the 2022 season, Wills missed the final two weeks due to “a little bit of a heart situation” after being hospitalized in Toronto. At the time, he said on his social media that he was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, which is an irregularly fast or erratic heartbeat (arrhythmia) that affects the heart’s upper chambers.
Wills returned to work the Rays broadcast for their playoff series against Cleveland in October. He also worked on the broadcast for the Rays’ March 4 Spring Training game against the New York Yankees.
In a news release, the team also noted: “During his time with the Rays, Wills became a beloved figure among fans for his passion, enthusiasm and expertise. He called some of the most memorable moments in Rays history, including the team’s run to the World Series in 2008 and 2020. Wills was known for his impeccable play-by-play calling, his insightful analysis, and his infectious personality. His contributions to the Rays organization and the Tampa Bay community will never be forgotten.”
The team will honor Wills with a special pregame tribute during the season, with details to be announced at a later date.
Wills is survived by his wife, Liz; son, Alex; and daughter, Michelle.
Published March 15, 2023