Rays set to induct Dave Wills into Hall of Fame on Sunday

ST. PETERSBURG — During his 18 years in the Rays radio booth, Dave Wills was known for having a big voice, a big personality, a big presence.

On Sunday, 13 months after he died unexpectedly at age 58, Wills will receive the franchise’s biggest honor: induction into the team Hall of Fame.

Andy Freed, Wills’ partner and good friend for 18 years, will emcee the ceremony prior to the scheduled 1:40 p.m. game against San Francisco. Liz Wills, Dave’s wife, will narrate a video. Michelle Wills, their daughter, will address the crowd, which will include many relatives and friends. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will speak for the team.

A private event for family and friends was held at Tropicana Field a few weeks after Wills died at home on March 5, 2023, and a pre-game tribute before an April 2023 contest against the White Sox, for whom the Chicagoan worked previously. Sunday’s ceremony will be to celebrate his life and career, with the first 12,000 fans getting a Wills-favored tropical shirt.

Former Rays pitcher Blake Snell, now with the Giants, said he is honored to start on the day of Wills’ ceremony.

“Such a nice guy,” Snell said. “Always fun to be around. I had a good relationship with him. I always liked joking with him — that was where I went for a good laugh or a joke. And I loved hearing his play-by-play.

“I’m excited I get to be here for that and pitch on that day. I know he’ll want the Rays to win, but hopefully he has some fun with me pitching against them.”

Wills will be the fourth inductee into the Hall that was launched last year as part of the team’s 25-year celebration, joining senior advisor Don Zimmer, third baseman (and national Hall of Famer) Wade Boggs and outfielder Carl Crawford. Tampa native Fred McGriff, a July 2023 addition to Cooperstown, will be inducted into the Rays’ Hall on Sept. 1.

• • •

Sign up for the Sports Today newsletter to get daily updates on the Bucs, Rays, Lightning and college football across Florida.

Never miss out on the latest with your favorite Tampa Bay sports teams. Follow our coverage on Instagram, X and Facebook.