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Gil Santos, who called 743 Patriots games over 36 seasons, dies at 78

BOSTON -- Gil Santos, the New England Patriots' longtime radio voice, died Thursday on his 78th birthday.

WBZ NewsRadio confirmed Santos' death. It didn't give a cause of death. Santos was a sports anchor at WBZ for 38 years.

Santos started working Patriots broadcasts games in 1966 as a color analyst. He took over play-by-play duties when the team moved to Foxborough in 1971. WBZ lost the team's broadcast rights in the 1980s, and Santos returned to the station in 1991 and remained a fixture through the 2012 season.

Santos called 743 games in 36 seasons and also did many Boston College football games. He retired from WBZ in 2009 after 38 years and was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame that year. In 2013, he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

"It was my privilege to honor Gil with his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2013," Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a team statement. "His legacy and most memorable calls will live there for future generations of Patriots fans to enjoy."

While most known for his work with the Patriots, Santos also had stints broadcasting games for the Boston Celtics, Penn State and Boston College football and Providence College and Big East basketball.

Santos was born in Acushnet, Massachusetts, and grew up in Fairhaven. He attended Southeastern Massachusetts University, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and graduated from the New England Broadcast School.

Santos is survived by his wife Roberta, daughter Kathleen and son Mark.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.