A WDAE tribute to Dave Wills.

Sunday saw some sad news from the Tampa Bay Rays. The team announced that radio play-by-play voice Dave Wills, who had been with the organization since 2005, has passed away at 58. That led to the Rays cancelling the day’s scheduled radio broadcast from spring training, and announcing they’d hold a pre-game moment of silence for Wills:

As per that last piece (from Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times), Wills was hospitalized in Toronto late in the 2022 season and missed the final two weeks of that regular season with a heart issue, but had returned for the playoffs and for this year’s spring training (where he called Saturday’s game):

Wills missed the final two weeks of the 2022 regular season as the result of “a little bit of a heart situation” after being hospitalized in Toronto. He said at the time he was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia which, per mayoclinic.org, is an irregularly fast or erratic heartbeat (arrhythmia) that affects the heart’s upper chambers.

But he rejoined the team for the playoff series in Cleveland looked to be in good health and spirits while working games this spring, most recently Saturday in Tampa.

Here’s Wills’ final call from Saturday’s game, complete with his signature “Rays win!”

Before joining the Rays in 2005, Wills had spent 11 years calling radio broadcasts for the Chicago White Sox in his hometown. He had also been a long-time broadcaster for the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames’ men’s basketball team. And he made a significant mark on many around baseball and other parts of the sports world, as the numerous tributes to him Sunday illustrate. Here is Wills’ long-time radio partner (since 2005) Andrew Freed:

Here are a few of the other tributes:

Our thoughts go out to Wills’ family, friends, and fans.

[The Tampa Bay Times; photo from 95.3/620 WDAE, the Tampa sports station that carries Rays’ games]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.