Getting to know Tampa Bay Rays play-by-play announcer Dave Wills with "10 questions"
9:33 AM, Oct 22, 2013
TAMPA - Are you ever curious about the real lives of politicians, celebrities, local newsmakers and athletes?
Each Tuesday, ABC Action News asks 10 questions of a Bay area leader, politician or national celebrity.
We go beyond the questions that are news of the day. After all, sometimes we want know more about them. What's their favorite music? Greatest success? And who do they look up to?
What a great year (again) for our very own Tampa Bay Rays! As the World Series begins this week, Rays fans here certainly can't help but think 'That could have been us!'
This week, we hear from one of voices of the Rays, and has been for nine seasons! Dave Wills, the Tampa Bay Rays radio play-by-play announcer.
Baseball is his game. And Dave's experience spans decades.
In fact, he played some baseball himself!
Here are just a few of his career highlights:
Dave spent eleven seasons as part of the Chicago White Sox radio broadcast team, before coming to Florida.
Dave said he was the first radio voice for the Class-A Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League franchise.
He was also the radio voice for the University of Illinois-Chicago men's basketball team.
Dave's broadcast experience goes beyond radio. He also helped televise the pre- and postgame shows for Notre Dame football and basketball.
Dave is a man of many talents. He also served as the pitching coach/recruiting coordinator with Elmhurst College, the same place where he played baseball for three years in college and where he earned a bachelors degree.
Dave also gives back to this community. He participates in the Hillsborough County Great American Teach In, and every winter, he joins Rays Manager Joe Maddon in feeding the homeless in Maddon's annual Thanksmas tradition.
Dave and his wife, Elizabeth have two children, a son, Alex, and a daughter, Michelle.
Our own Denis Phillips, such a huge Rays fan, is a fan of Dave's as well. In fact, I recruited Denis in hopes of getting Dave to answer my 10 questions:
1. What is your favorite movie or song?
It has always been very hard for me to ever pick a favorite ANYTHING... but I would have to say "It's a Wonderful Life" is near the top of the list. I didn't even watch it until I was in my 20's and it struck a nerve. My wife and daughter bought me a Christmas ornament that is a theater box office with "It's a Wonderful Life" on the marquee. It's not officially the holiday season until that goes on the tree. Favorite sports movie is probably "Rocky" or "Miracle" and I probably have to include a favorite baseball movie, Bull Durham.
2. Do you have a smartphone? If so, what's your favorite app?
I have an Apple IPhone 4S... my favorite app is probably Twitter. It's a great way to keep up to date on what's going on in MLB and to also to connect with my listeners. I check it constantly during the season, much to the chagrin of my wife. Next favorite is MLB At Bat, for obvious reasons.
3. Who do you count as your mentors?
I don't know if I would use the term mentor, but Harry Caray, Pat Foley and Jim Durham were guys I loved listening to when I was growing up in the Chicago area. Harry always sounded like he was having the most fun a guy can have. Pat Foley would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up with his exuberant highlight calls. Jim Durham was as good as it gets in his description of what was going on on the basketball court.
My mom and dad and other family and friends instilled my work ethic and desire to succeed. It's not easy to make it as a MLB play by play announcer. There are only about 50 non former players in the booth. There is a reason why people broadcast into their 70's and even 80's, you get PAID to watch baseball and it beats working for a living.
4. What was your very first job?
I was a paper boy when I was 9 or 10. I delivered the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Today afternoon editions. I've worked many different jobs on my way to the broadcast booth. Busboy at Palermo's...pizza maker at Nino's... shift manager at Taco Bell in college...Servicemaster...made steel cores in a steel factory...SportsPhone...PR Director for the Arena Football League's Chicago Bruisers...Pitching coach at Elmhurst College...Head baseball coach at the University of Chicago and bartender at TC Pub.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I wish I could be better at remembering people's names. I know I meet a lot of people, but I am brutal at remembering names.
6. What do you consider your greatest success?
Marrying my wife and my family.
7. Tell us something about you that most people don't know?
I'm not the "neatnick"(is that a word?) that I might appear to be...my clothes might be pressed, my handwriting is raved about and my car is always clean. But my side of the bathroom sink is always a mess I might even miss the hamper every once in a while. Thankfully, my wife is around to remind me of that and on occasion clean up and pick up after me.
8. If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley and my mom. Being from Illinois and also for what he did as President I would think Lincoln would be a very interesting dinner guest. I'm sure Elvis would have some interesting stories to share. My mom, passed away last October and would love to have another dinner with her. Plus, she was a HUGE Elvis fan so that would be a great way to bring them together.
9. What is in your fridge right now?
Well, I am on the road, so right now there is a $32 small bottle of Bacardi,$9 Bud Light's, $6 cans of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, $7 Red Bull and $4 Snickers bars.You learn early on that raiding the honor bar can cost you a few $$$$.
10. If you could have a different career, other than what you are doing now, what would it be?
My other major in college was Urban Studies, so it would probably have something to do with government, either in administration or elected office. I guess since I talk for a living I might have made a decent politician, but I'm glad things worked out the way they did. I have the best "job" in the world and I get winters off in Florida, doesn't get any better than that.
Please keep sending me your suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!
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