‘Snipe’ Did It All

July 8, 2010

John "Snipe" Van Veghel, a visible member of the Sheboygan-area sports community for more than five decades, died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday. He was 85.

Wisconsin State League

When John Van Veghel Jr. was a child, his father would tell him and his siblings that it didn’t matter what sport they took part in. Just that they did something.

After all, Dad was active in one way or another in just about every sport out there during his time.

John “Snipe” Van Veghel, a visible member of the Sheboygan-area sports community for more than five decades, died of congestive heart failure on Wednesday. He was 85.

Van Veghel began teaching at Sheboygan Central High School in 1951 after graduating from UW-La Crosse. Over the next 56 years, “Snipe,” as he was widely known, was a teacher, coach and referee, as well as a league golfer and bowler, and league treasurer and secretary.

His list of accomplishments was as long as the full life he led. Snipe was an official in track and field for 56 tears, swimming for 54 years, football for 52 years, basketball for 26, baseball for 18 and even wrestling for four, according to son John.

He coached swimming and baseball at Sheboygan Central before the school was closed in 1959. His physical education teaching career carried over to Urban Middle School until his retirement in 1984. He continued coaching swimming, coaching a combined 53 years at Central and North.

“He didn’t push us into one thing or another. He let us choose,” said John Van Veghel, who recently wrapped up his 21st year as the junior varsity baseball coach at Sheboygan North.

“That was the beautiful thing about him,” he said. “As long as you were doing something, he was happy.”

In 2007, he was inducted into the Sheboygan County Baseball Hall of Fame by the Sheboygan Oldtimers Baseball Association. He was the organization’s treasurer and secretary for 28 years. He was also a Sheboygan A’s board member for nearly two decades and was inducted into the Sheboygan Diamonds Hall of Fame in 2000.

Until the very end, Snipe was earning praise. On Monday, he was recognized by the WIAA for his decades of officiating.

In addition, he was a league bowler for 56 years, mostly at Maple Lanes, and a league golfer for more than 50 years at Quit Qui Oc.

Way before that, Snipe lettered in basketball, baseball and track and field at West Allis Central, then he was a Golden Gloves boxer during his three-year stint in the Army before going to college.

Pat Renzelmann knew Snipe as a teacher and a referee, as a student and baseball player at Central High from 1956-58, and for 21 years as football coach at Howards Grove (1966-86).

But he knows him most as a friend and respected mentor.

“He wasn’t only a great person, but a father, husband, coach, teacher, referee, you name it, he was one great man,” said Renzelmann.

“Snipe has been a valued member of the Sheboygan Athletic Club for as long as I can remember,” said Denny Moyer, Sheboygan A’s general manager and Sheboygan Athletic Club president.

“He has served on the board of directors, worked as a concessions foreman, sold a ton of ads for our program, worked on our bingo committee and when he wasn’t working he was leading cheers and baiting umpires from his familiar spot in the third base bleachers,” he said. “To say that he will be missed is do understate immensely.”

A visitation will take place at Zimmer’s Westview Funeral & Cremation Care Center (state highway and county highway JJ in Howards Grove) on Friday, from 2 p.m. until the time of a vigil service at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Saturday at 10 a.m. at St Clements Catholic. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery where military rites will take place.

Story by: The Sheboygan Press
Photo by: The Sheboygan Press

The Wisconsin State League is one of the premier semi-professional/amateur baseball leagues in the mid-west. In operation since 1970, the Wisconsin State League is a highly competitive league that features many of the midwest's top current and former collegiate athletes, as well as many former professional baseball players. Keep up to date on everything happening in the Wisconsin State League by following the league online on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

WisconsinStateLeague.com | #WSL