Dave Wills, Tampa Bay Rays Radio Announcer, Dies at 58

Wills served as the voice of the Major League baseball team for the last 18 years

Dave Wills Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay Rays radio announcer, Dave Wills. (YouTube

Dave Wills, who served as the Tampa Bay Rays radio announcer over the past 18 years, died Sunday, March 5, the Rays and Major League Baseball announced. No cause of death was revealed. He was 58.

During his time with the Rays, Wills called pivotal moments in the franchise’s history, including the team’s journey to the 2008 and 2020 World Series.

In a Twitter post, the Rays called Wills “a beloved figure throughout the Tampa Bay community and Major League Baseball.” The MLB commemorated Wills’ “impeccable play-by-play calling, his insightful analysis and his infectious personality.”

“Dave was an outstanding broadcaster, a great friend and an even better person,” said the Rays’ principal owner Stuart Sternberg in the MLB announcement. “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.”

“Baseball lost one of its most informative and entertaining storytellers, and I feel like I lost a brother,” former Rays communicatons chief Rick Vaughn said. “He was so happy here in Tampa Bay and so eager to represent the Rays wherever he went.”

Alongside his partner Andy Freed, Wills joined the Rays in 2005, quickly becoming a fan-favorite duo. Before that, the Chicago native spent 11 years with the White Sox radio team. He got his start doing play-by-play for the minor league team Kane County Cougars from 1991 to 1995, following his time with the University of Illinois-Chicago men’s basketball team and other broadcast work.

Though an official cause of death has not been revealed, the Tampa Bay Times reported that he was diagnosed with a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia (rapid heart beat) at the end of 2022. After being hospitalized in Toronto, he missed the final two weeks of the 2022 regular season, but was back to work in time for the playoff series in Cleveland.

The Rays are replacing Sunday’s broadcast with a moment of silence in Wills’ honor. They plan to celebrate his life with a special pregame tribute later in the season, with details to be announced at a later date.

Wills is survived by his wife, Liz; son, Alex; and daughter, Michelle.