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Faces at state tournament: Van Goor helps bring 'professional' atmosphere to amateur tournament

EDITOR'S NOTE: Faces at the State Amateur Baseball Tournament is a regular series, profiling one contributor, worker, player, manager or fan a day during the duration of the Class B state tournament.

Public address announcer Joe Van Goor poses for a photo in the Cadwell Park press box during the Class B state amateur baseball tournament on Thursday. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Public address announcer Joe Van Goor poses for a photo in the Cadwell Park press box during the Class B state amateur baseball tournament on Thursday. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Faces at the State Amateur Baseball Tournament is a regular series, profiling one contributor, worker, player, manager or fan a day during the duration of the Class B state tournament.

There's been one voice echoing around the Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell Park for the past three years.

Joe Van Goor, the radio voice for University of South football and men's basketball teams, started announcing the state amateur tournament in 2014 and is finishing up his third year announcing the annual year-end tournament.

"We try to bring a professional baseball game-like atmosphere here," said Van Goor, who joked he does what he's told by tournament director Jim "Jocko" Johnston. "There's a script to read, players to introduce. It's a lot like a high school state tournament, in that the first games, every player, including the reserves are announced, whether they see the field or not."

Van Goor, a Yankton native who currently resides in Vermillion, added his duties also include announcements, recorded announcements, session sponsors, promotional giveaways, bingo and 50-50 raffles, as well as a summary every half-inning and at the end of every game.

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Van Goor has the crowd waiting on every number called during bingo, which is played during every game at the state tournament.

"It may be as popular as the game itself," Van Goor said about bingo. "It's quite competitive and it's been fun to do that."

He first started broadcasting in 1984, working for WNAX (570 AM) in Yankton, but didn't work his first amateur baseball games until 1993. He now works for KVHT-FM and KVTK-AM in Yankton. Van Goor, who also announces events for the South Dakota High School Activities Association, including the state track meet, said he enjoys the annual year-end tournament.

"I wanted to stay in touch, because it's like the football playoffs or state basketball tournaments. You see people you don't see until you get to a tournament," Van Goor said. "I've built up friendships with players, managers and fans through the years. It's my way to stay connected with them."

For the past three years, Van Goor has been brought in by the Mitchell Baseball Association to help make the 31-game Class B tournament sound smooth from game-to-game.

"The Mitchell Baseball Association does a top-notch job," Van Goor said. "Mitchell does an outstanding job with the tournament. It's too hard to put into words how many hours, the Parks and Rec (department), the Mitchell Baseball Association and the Mitchell Exchange Club put in here to make the fan experience important."

Van Goor said he enjoys the tournament in Mitchell, but understands that the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association likes to have the tournament in different locations "every once in awhile."
Mitchell will host the tournament again in 2017, before it moves to Sioux Falls in 2018 and then returns to Mitchell in 2019.

Van Goor added the "gauntlet of the tournament" is the first Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when four games are played on each day.

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"That can wear you down, but it gets easier with two games a night after that," he said. "Then, the excitement builds with the semifinals and of course, the two championships."

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