The ProRodeo Hall of Fame celebrated the colorful careers of 10 rodeo legends today at the 2008 induction ceremonies at the headquarters of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
The Class of 2008 included 1979 World Tie-Down Roping Champion and 1980 World Champion All-Around Cowboy Paul Tierney; 1993 and 1995 World Champion Team Roper Bobby Hurley; the late 1987-88 World Champion Steer Roper Shaun Burchett; 2001 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Tom Reeves; the late legendary stock contractor Feek Tooke; longtime rodeo entertainers Leon and Vicki Adams; famed bucking horse Trails End; competitor, pickup man and judge Duane Howard; and the late Buddy Lytle, a longtime professional judge.
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame Selection Committee voted unanimously to officially induct the 16 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeo committees that had been previously honored with special recognition by the PRCA and ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
The rodeo committees inducted were: the Buffalo Bill Rodeo (North Platte, Neb.); the Calgary (Alberta) Stampede; California Rodeo Salinas; Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days; the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (Pocatello, Idaho); the Grand National Rodeo, Horse and Stock Show (San Francisco); the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo; La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson, Ariz.); the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo (Denver); the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up; the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo (Colorado Springs, Colo.); the Reno (Nev.) Rodeo; the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo; the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show (Fort Worth, Texas); the West of the Pecos (Texas) Rodeo; and the Prescott (Ariz.) Frontier Days – the World’s Oldest Rodeo.
A crowd of more than 1,000 witnessed the ceremony at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class in 1979 and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
"We are so proud to be here for the 30th anniversary of the beautiful ProRodeo Hall of Fame," said PRCA Chairman of the Board Keith Martin. “This wonderful group encompasses every aspect of rodeo. It is fitting that these inductees be immortalized today for their enormous contributions to professional rodeo, the greatest sport in the world.”
The Hall’s inductees are selected annually by a committee of former contestants, rodeo notables, PRCA officials and rodeo experts. Selection is based on contributions to the sport of professional rodeo. More than 150 individuals are nominated each year, but only a few are selected. Including this year’s inductees, 206 people, 25 animals and 16 rodeo committees have been inducted.
“This is the ultimate honor for me to be inducted with this class,” Hurley said. “To walk in that room and see those plaques, and then see mine there, too, makes the thousands of steers, miles and phone calls all worth it.”
Burchett, Lytle, Tooke and Trails End were inducted posthumously.
Look for video tributes on each inductee online at www.prorodeo.com
About the inductees
Tierney. Tierney, 56, was the world champion tie-down roper in 1979 and then put together an even better season in 1980 to end Tom Ferguson’s six-year reign as all-around champion and become the second rodeo cowboy to surpass $100,000 in earnings during a single season. He was second in the tie-down roping standings in 1980 and fourth in steer wrestling to earn $105,568. He was the reserve all-around champion in both 1977 and 1979, finishing second both times to Ferguson, and was fourth in 1981 behind Jimmie Cooper, Roy Cooper and Ferguson. Seven times Tierney rated among the top 10 all-around cowboys before retiring in the late 1980s after suffering a ruptured disc in his back. He had nine NFR tie-down qualifications (1977-82, 1984-86) and five in steer wrestling (1977, 1979-81, 1984).
Hurley. Hurley’s four-year partnership with Allen Bach produced two world championship gold buckles, the first all alone in 1993 and the second shared with Bach in 1995 when the rules were changed to account for crowning a world champion header and heeler instead of just one award for the highest-earning team roper. Hurley, 44, made 12 consecutive appearances in the NFR (1986-97) as a header and 15 overall, forming enduring partnerships with Dennis Watkins, Dennis Gatz and Cody Cowden in addition to Bach. Two of Hurley’s horses, Yellow Bar Smug (1990) and Tres Spiffy Dude (1994), were named AQHA/PRCA Head Horse of the Year.
Burchett. Taught by his father, Randy, from childhood, Shaun Burchett emerged as one of the most talented young steer ropers the sport had ever seen. Burchett was PRCA Rookie of the Year in 1981 at 17 years old and made his first National Finals Steer Roping appearance just two years later, finishing 14th in the world. He was twice reserve World Champion (1985-86) to ProRodeo Hall of Famer Jim Davis before breaking through to win back-to-back world championships in 1987-88, over Davis. Burchett appeared in nine consecutive NFSRs (1983-91) despite losing his spleen and suffering damage to a kidney in May 1989 when his truck collided with a train. Burchett, of Pryor, Okla., broke the NFSR record with a 9.8-second run in 1990 and was the first steer roper ever to post a time under 9.0 seconds. He did it twice in 1987, with runs of 8.5 and 8.9 seconds. He died in a single-vehicle accident in Sherman, Texas, Jan. 26, 1992, at age 28.
Reeves. Reeves, the 2001 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider and 18-time NFR qualifier, received the ProRodeo Hall of Fame Mentoring Award in 2007 after taking Ranger (Texas) College to the College National Finals Rodeo men’s title in his second season as coach. As a competitor, Reeves qualified for the first 18 NFRs held in Las Vegas (1985-2002), six times finishing among the top four in the world. Only Billy Etbauer has more NFR qualifications with 19. Reeves, 43, also earned a silver medallion for finishing second at the 2002 Olympic Command Performance Rodeo in Farmington, Utah, while serving as captain for the gold medal-winning United States team. He retired in 2005 with career earnings of $1,745,962, putting him 20th on the all-time list entering the 2008 season.
Tooke. Tooke started raising horses on the family’s Montana ranch in 1936, and the breeding program he created with his son, Ernest, has produced more than 6,000 bucking horses, passed along to every top stock contractor in North America. The foundations of the Tooke bloodline were Prince, General Custer, Timberline, Gray Wolf and Snowflake. Since 1987, the majority of National Finals Rodeo champion broncs and PRCA Bucking Horses of the Year award recipients are genetically linked to the Tookes' program, including Angel Blue, Spring Fling, Air Wolf, Comotion, Guilty Cat, Bobby Joe Skoal, Challenger and Cloud Gray.
Trails End. The pride of the Oral Zumwalt rodeo string out of Missoula, Mont., Trails End was the 1959 Rodeo Cowboys Association Bucking Horse of the Year and was three times recognized as the top saddle bronc of the National Finals Rodeo (1959-61). The nearly 1,300-pound sorrel put the best riders of the era in the dirt during his 11 NFR appearances, including ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductees Casey Tibbs, Larry Mahan and Guy Weeks. In 1959, Trails End was ridden just four times in 13 tries, and three of the cowboys who made it to the eight-second whistle were rewarded with a first-place buckle.
Leon and Vicki Adams. For parts of five decades, the husband and wife team of Leon and Vicki Adams from Stuart, Okla., has been entertaining rodeo crowds with Roman riding on the backs of Brahma bulls, horses dancing on their hind legs and Brahmas leaping through hoops of fire. Leon, 77, received the PRCA Specialty Act of the Year Award in 1982, followed two years later by Vicki, 56. They twice won the award together, in 1987 and 1997. Apart from appearing at major rodeos all across the United States, the Adams have performed in France, Japan, Finland, Mexico and Canada.
Howard. The term all-around takes on a different meaning when applied to Howard, of Sheyenne, N.D. An all-around cowboy who competed at the highest level of ProRodeo as a young man, Howard would later serve on the PRCA Board of Directors, as a PRCA pickup man and as one of the first PRCA professional judges (1982-94), working the National Finals Rodeo 11 times. Howard competed in all three roughstock events as a professional, finishing as reserve World Champion in bull riding three times (1955, 1957 and 1960) and also as reserve World Champion in the all-around to Jim Shoulders in 1957. He qualified in saddle bronc riding and bull riding for the first two National Finals Rodeos in 1959 and 1960 and was the bull riding average winner in 1960 before his competitive career was cut short by injuries suffered at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days in 1961.
Lytle. One of rodeo’s most respected and well-liked officials, Lytle helped develop and write the PRCA’s judging handbook, professionalizing the sport. Lytle, of Byhalia, Miss., became a judge after a competitive career as a tie-down roper and steer wrestler, judging 24 National Finals Rodeos, plus Cheyenne (Wyo.), Pendleton (Ore.), Houston, Fort Worth and other top rodeos all over the country. He became a field representative for the PRCA in 2000, training prospective judges and working with accredited judges to help make them better. Despite a quiet battle he waged with leukemia over eight years, he kept judging until November 2001 and, even after he was hospitalized, he analyzed judging statistics and watched events on TV. He died April 10, 2002, at age 61.