Don Wells, a member of the Angels' original broadcast team, died Thursday in Switzerland after a long illness, according to his brother, Ralph. He was 79.
Wells, a Sacramento native and World War II veteran, went to broadcasting school on the GI Bill. He was working for WCFL in Chicago, where he broadcast White Sox and Chicago Cardinals football games, when he was hired by Angel owner Gene Autry in 1960 to work for Autry's Golden West Broadcasting Co. as the voice of the 1961 expansion Los Angeles Angels.
Wells worked with Bob Kelley and Steve Bailey on KMPC during the Angels' debut season and with a variety of other announcers, including Dick Enberg and Dave Niehaus, during his 12 seasons. He made the call of the first home run hit by an Angel, Ted Kluszewski, and described it by saying, "GOOD-bye baseball! Kluszewski hit one!"
Wells left the Angels after the 1972 season and announced sports and general news for KFWB until his retirement in 1988. He later moved to Switzerland to be with his son, Christopher, who had married a Swiss woman.
Niehaus, who shared the radio booth with Wells and Enberg from 1970 through 1972, remembered Wells as a "heck of a broadcaster" who never realized his dream.
"He never got that No. 1 job that he always wanted," said Niehaus, now a member of the Seattle Mariners' broadcast team. "I had a wonderful relationship with him. I always had fond memories of him."
Tim Mead, the Angels' vice president for communications, said he was saddened to hear of Wells' death, especially as the Angels prepared Friday for Game 3 of their American League division series against the New York Yankees, the club's first postseason home game since 1986.
"He was a part of Angel history," Mead said of Wells, "and one of the premier broadcasters in the history of this organization. The old guard, every time they refer to the L.A. and California Angels, they refer to Don Wells."
Longtime Autry aide and Angel employee John Moynihan remembered Wells and his partners affectionately.
"They were really good," Moynihan said Friday of Wells and one of his later partners, Buddy Blattner. "There aren't many of us [original employees] left. Just me...."
Another original Angel employee, publicist Irv Kaze, died June 29.
In addition to his son, Wells is survived by his wife, Jacque, grandsons Martin and Andrew and brother, Ralph, of San Diego.