Gil Santos, the longtime voice of the New England Patriots, has died at the age of 80.
WBZ announced that Santos passed away Thursday, on his 80th birthday, after decades with the station.
"The entire WBZ family is deeply saddened by the loss of this great friend and man," Bill Flaherty, a program director who worked with Santos for 25 years, said in a statement. "My heart goes out to his wife Roberta and his entire family."
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"For generations of Patriots fans, Gil Santos was and forever will be known as the 'Voice of the Patriots,'" team owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. "I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing on a day that he was celebrating his 80th birthday and his 57th wedding anniversary to his wife, Roberta."
Kraft added that for 36 years, Santos "passionately described the play-by-play detail of every Patriots game during his career, including many of the most memorable moments in franchise history."
Santos, selected to the Patriots' Hall of Fame in 2012, called Patriots games from 1966 until that year. According to the team's announcement of his selection, he served as a color commentator for his first five years with the Patriots. When the team moved from Boston to Foxboro in 1971, he began providing play-by-play commentary.
Fellow Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappalletti, a wide receiver and kicker for the Boston Patriots in the 1960s, spent nearly three decades in the broadcast booth with Santos, providing color commentary.
"My heart is heavy today learning of the loss of my dear friend, Gil Santos," Cappaletti said in a statement Friday. "For 28 seasons, Gil and I shared the excitement of broadcasting 485 Patriots games, including six Super Bowls. It was a remarkable journey. We experienced a lifetime of memorable moments, both in the booth and as friends. Gil was my broadcast partner, my friend, my compadre and the best play-by-play announcer on the planet. I send my love and prayers to Roberta, Kathy, Mark and the entire Santos family."
Additionally, WBZ notes that Santos is a member of the WZ Hall of Fame and the New England Broadcasters' Hall of Fame.