Solondz joining Rays' radio booth full time
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays on Thursday promoted Neil Solondz to the role of play-by-play broadcaster for the Rays Radio Network, moving the pregame and postgame radio host into the booth following the stunning and tragic passing of Dave Wills earlier this month.
Solondz, a tireless worker and enthusiastic broadcaster with an encyclopedic knowledge of the organization, will join longtime announcer Andy Freed in the booth full time. Freed spent the previous 18 seasons working alongside Wills, who unexpectedly passed away on March 5 at the age of 58.
“Dave left an indelible mark on our organization and the community as a whole,” Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg said in a statement. “We all enjoyed the special camaraderie he shared with Andy and Neil. We are fortunate to have an excellent team of broadcasters who will continue the high-caliber coverage that our fans deserve. We’re excited for Neil to bring his expertise and talent to the broadcast.”
Solondz has hosted the Rays’ pregame and postgame shows since 2012. He has also served as the producer of "This Week In Rays Baseball," a show that spotlights players, coaches, prospects and executives throughout the organization through in-depth interviews. He also generates additional content for the club, including a 25th anniversary podcast launched earlier this year.
Solondz also served as the club’s fill-in play-by-play voice over the last 11 seasons. He called games alongside Freed last September, when Wills was hospitalized, and Solondz joined Freed to honor Wills last weekend during a special tribute on the Rays Radio Network.
“Since 2012, when Neil joined Dave and I with Rays Radio, he has been a big part of what we do,” Freed said. “His advancement to the play-by-play booth creates a natural and seamless transition. It allows us to carry forward our tradition of providing entertaining Rays baseball broadcasts that connect with our fans.”
Solondz -- a Rutgers University graduate who resides in Palm Harbor, Fla., with his wife and two daughters -- was awarded the Rays' Joyce Smith Community Spirit Award, which recognizes one employee each year who makes significant societal contributions beyond their professional responsibilities. He previously worked as the radio voice of the Rays’ Triple-A Durham affiliate from 2004-11. He began his career broadcasting Minor League games for the Phillies’ Lakewood affiliate and the Twins’ Quad Cities club.
“Dave and Andy have built an incredible tradition with Tampa Bay Rays fans on air and in the community,” Solondz said. “I’m humbled and honored to join Andy in the booth. While no one can ever replace Dave, the best way to honor his legacy is to continue to share the game with the fans who love it as much as we do.”