The Voice of the IRT
By: Kelly R. Diesel
If you’re a fan of the fastest sport in the world, then you’ve surely heard this phrase as the lights come on and the players hit the court.
“Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for some great racquetball action?”
Dean Baer, born and raised in Long Island, New York, captures your attention from the moment the International Racquetball Tour (IRT) goes live, till the very last point scored at the end of the weekend in the Sunday morning finals. Baer’s energetic attitude during the play-by-play of the IRT broadcasts, and his somewhat catchy, but also questionable catch-phrases have really solidified his role as “The Voice of the IRT.”
Baer grew up in Long Island and began playing racquetball as a kid in the city with friends and family. The fastest sport in the world wasn’t exactly fitting for Baer, so he tried his luck with hockey shortly thereafter.
“At the time racquetball was a really touch sport and I didn’t like the game, I started playing more hockey and really took off with that,” Baer said. “About 20 years later my brother asked me to come down to the gym and hit with him, and that was the first time I realized how much I missed racquetball and started to play undercover.”
The feeling Baer got from getting back into the racquetball world again can be described as, “finding a missing puzzle piece to my life, it’s something I missed so much more than I ever could have thought.” Baer’s undercover game started to improve and with it, his confidence and love for the sport grew as well.
After finding a sponsor and entering more tournaments Baer decided to sponsor an IRT tournament in New York in 2012. After the tournament, Baer realized how much he really enjoyed the atmosphere and responsibilities it takes to put on a tournament, rather than everything it takes to prepare to play in a tournament. Baer joined the Tour’s ownership group and became an official investor in the Tour, but he still wanted to do more.
“I realized how much more involved I could be with helping and sponsoring tournaments rather than playing in them,” Baer said. “I still like to play and I do enter some divisions at some tournaments and venues, but I really like my new position.
Baer’s position he mentioned is the official “Voice of the IRT” at all of the Tour’s Tier 1 and Grand Slam events during the season. His first experience on the mic came in 2018 in Lombard, Illinois at the 33rd Annual Shamrock Shootout. As a sort of “trial run”, Baer took the mic and called several matches that weekend in Lombard but didn’t feel too confident afterwards.
“I think I was pretty terrible at it,” Baer said. “I was really trying to be someone else on the mic, and call the match like previous commentators on Tour and it just didn’t work for me. Fran Davis told me to be myself on the mic and it was the best thing I could’ve done.”
After taking the advice given to him, Baer said calling matches got a lot easier, it got a lot more fun and he really started to embrace this new opportunity in his life. Baer has been “The Voice” since March of 2018 and continues to call matches today. His concrete jungle accent and his quirky, but catchy calls on the mic have fans of the IRT all over the world tuning in to see what’s in store. Overall the job is going great and the memories made are irreplaceable, but there is always room to improve.
“Racquetball has given me opportunities to do some things and meet some people that I never thought would happen in my life,” Baer said. “Things are going well, but the production side has lots more things to do and I’m looking forward to getting that improved. It’s a great team on the IRT board and they do everything they can to improve for our future seasons.”
Baer plans to always be involved with the Tour, as long as they’ll have him. Whether it’s calling more matches, or taking care of other responsibilities for the IRT, Baer is ready for the tasks. His strongest ambition for the IRT is to really grow the sport and spread it through the United States in order to create a passionate fan bases like he witnessed in last season’s Grand Slam event in Bolivia. Fans lining up outside the doors and sitting on each other’s laps to get a glimpse of the Tour’s action, that’s what Baer hope to accomplish in his time with the Tour.