March 2004 -- Six-time world tie-down roping champion and 1999 World All-Around Champion Fred Whitfield of Hockley, Texas; 1991 World Bareback Riding Champion Clint Corey of Powell Butte, Ore., and three-time world team roping champion Tee Woolman of Llano, Texas, headline the 2004 class of inductees for the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. The 10 members of the 2004 class will be inducted on Aug. 14 at 10 a.m. in Colorado Springs, Colo. The ProRodeo Hall of Fame is celebrating its 25-year anniversary in 2004.
In addition to Whitfield, Corey and Woolman, the class includes announcing legend Bob Tallman of Weatherford, Texas; 1957 World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Alvin Nelson of Grassy Butte, N.D.; Dr. J. Pat Evans, of Dallas, the co-founder of the Justin SportsMedicine Team as a notable; longtime secretary and timer June Ivory of Pampa, Texas; outgoing Dallas Morning News executive sports editor Dave Smith of Dallas in the newly created media category; three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo top bareback horse Three Bars of Reg Kesler Rodeo and the late Asbury Schell of Camp Verde, Ariz., a three-time world team roping champion. The ProRodeo Hall of Fame is also recognizing the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) in Pocatello, Idaho, for its continuing tradition of professional rodeo.
A nine-member Hall of Fame Selection Committee selected the 10 inductees on March 3 at a meeting at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Whitfield, 35, is considered by many the greatest tie-down roper in ProRodeo history. With six world titles and an all-around crown on a resume that also includes victories at the Pace Picante ProRodeo Finale in 2002-03, the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) in 2003 and three Wrangler National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping aggregate crowns, it's hard to argue. He trails only Dean Oliver (8) for the most tie-down roping world titles.
Whitfield joined the PRCA in 1990 and was his event's rookie of the year. The next year, he started his streak of 14 consecutive qualifications to the Wrangler NFR and won his first world title and aggregate crown. He added world titles in 1995-96 and, although he didn't win the crown in 1997, he set the Wrangler NFR aggregate record by roping and tying 10 calves in a stunning 84.0 seconds.
Perhaps his greatest achievement came in 1999, when he became the first African-American cowboy to claim rodeo's greatest prize, the world all-around title, in addition to his fourth world tie-down roping title. He also claimed world championship buckles in 2000 and 2002.
In 2003, he became the third cowboy to reach $2 million in career earnings, joining Hall of Famers Roy Cooper and Joe Beaver.
Corey, 42, has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 18 times, just one shy of the record held by fellow Hall of Famer Bruce Ford. He won the world bareback riding title in 1991 after finishing second in 1985, 1988 and 1990. He also was the world runner-up in 1995 and has finished in the top five in the world standings an amazing 14 times.
Corey, known as one of the most cordial cowboys in ProRodeo, claimed the Wrangler NFR bareback riding aggregate title in 2001 at the age of 40 and has a collection of championship buckles from nearly every major rodeo in North America.
Besides his dominance in the world standings, Corey also has proved himself close to home. He claimed the Columbia River Circuit year-end title12 consecutive times between 1989 and 2000 and also was the Circuit Finals Rodeo's bareback riding aggregate champion 11 times. Later this month, Corey will ride in the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) in Pocatello, Idaho, for the 16th time. He won his title at the event in 1989, 1991 and 1997 and is the only roughstock cowboy in event history to have claimed three titles.
No one has qualified for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo more than Woolman. The 47-year-old holds the event record for team roping qualifications (20) and combined Wrangler NFR and National Finals Steer Roping berths (37).
Woolman, with three world titles and four Wrangler NFR team roping aggregate titles to go with one NFSR aggregate title and a championship at the 1997 Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo, has become nearly timeless in his team roping skills.
He broke into ProRodeo in 1980 and earned rookie-of-the-year honors en route to the world title. He added world titles in 1982 and 1990 and doubled as the Wrangler NFR aggregate champion all three times, in addition to another in 1987.
With more than $1.96 million in career earnings, Woolman is on pace to become the next member of the $2 million club and the first to get there primarily by team roping.
Woolman, was named TeeSquantnee, which is Cherokee for "boy of the woods, " after Cherokee Chief TeeSquantnee Ballard, a distant relative of his mother.
Tallman, 56, has endeared himself as one of the favorite rodeo announcers of fame and contestants in North America. He has enjoyed a career that has spanned more than three decades and 15,000 performances.
His voice, knowledge and delivery have become legendary in the rodeo industry and Tallman has the resume to prove it. In 2003, the native of Winnemucca, Nev., was selected to announce the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the 17th time and eighth time in a row. No one in the 45-year history of the Wrangler NFR has announced the rodeo more times.
In addition, he was named PRCA Announcer of the Year in 1982, 1987, 1997 and 1999-2001.
Tallman's involvement with rodeo began in 1960 when he competed as a tie-down roper and team roper. His competitive career continued into the 1980s.
Today, Tallman announces more than 100 rodeos each year, including many of the largest events sanctioned by the PRCA.
While Nelson, 69, started his career as a three-event roughstock cowboy, he excelled at saddle bronc riding as a professional. He turned pro in 1953 and, during his 13-year career, won a world title, claimed two aggregate crowns at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and qualified for the Wrangler NFR five times.
He claimed the 1957 world saddle bronc riding title, ending a string of six consecutive titles claimed by fellow Hall of Famers Casey Tibbs and Deb Copenhaver. Nelson went on to claim the aggregate title at the Wrangler NFR in 1961-62 and also was the all-around champion of the 1961 Wrangler NFR.
Nelson is also a member of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and North and South Dakota Cowboy halls of fame.
J. Pat Evans
In the 24 years since helping to co-found the Justin SportsMedicine Team, Dr. Evans has undoubtedly helped thousands of cowboys by providing them medical attention. At the 1980 National Finals Rodeo, Evans and Don Andrews, now the executive director of the Justin SportsMedicine Team, launched the program, the brainchild of both men.
Today, the program ensures cowboys competing are well taken care of. Justin SportsMedicine trailers help provide services to more than 150 PRCA-sanctioned rodeos each year.
Evans, who had a private practice in Dallas, worked in the 1970s and 1980s as the team doctor for the Dallas Cowboys. He also worked as the team doctor for the Dallas Mavericks from 1980 to 1992.
Today, Evans is retired and spends his winters in Dallas and summers near Colorado Springs, Colo., with his wife of 48 years, Joanie.
Ivory has spent nearly a lifetime in the rodeo arena, most notably as a secretary, timer and flag bearer at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
Ivory, 71, was on hand to unload the first horse at the first National Finals Rodeo in 1959. She worked at the Wrangler NFR, first as timer, starting in 1960 and later was arena secretary at the event in 1974 and 1979.
Her involvement in the Wrangler NFR went beyond stopping the clock and signing checks. She has served as a consultant and researcher for various projects related to rodeo and has spearheaded the Cowboy Reunion each year at the Wrangler NFR.
Smith, who is retiring in April after 23 years as executive sports editor for the Dallas Morning News, helped build a nationally recognized sports section and push rodeo to the forefront as not only a regional, but national sport.
Since 1983, SportsDay has been honored as one of the top 10 daily and Sunday sections by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE).
His career started in 1957, when he was named sports editor of the Marine Corps Air Station's base newspaper, the Windsock. He later served a similar capacity at newspapers in his native Ohio, South Florida, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Dallas.
Among the legendary late Reg Kesler's herd in Missoula, Mont., and Rosemary, Alberta, none generated more talk within the rodeo committee than the great mare Three Bars.
Three Bars was selected the top bareback horse of the National Finals Rodeo in 1967, 1973 and 1980.
"This horse was probably the rankest horse I was ever on," said five-time world champion bareback rider and ProRodeo Hall of Fame member Bruce Ford of Kersey, Colo. "She never had a set pattern, but she didn't want you on her back."
Three Bars also had bloodlines to several great horses from Kesler's ranches that also bucked at the NFR, including Three Cheers, Three Stars and Three Stages, just to name a few.
Three Bars is the first horse inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame since Bernis Johnson's great bareback horse Sippin' Velvet was enshrined in 2000.
Schell was born in 1903 in Gisela, Ariz., and began his rodeo career at the age of 17. At his first competition, Schell won prize money riding bulls, but on that day decided never to ride a bull again. Instead he turned his competitive talents to tie-down roping, where he was known for his original style of flanking and tying standing up.
Schell was a three-time world champion team roper in 1937, 1939 and 1952.
He regularly defeated many of the larger, stronger cowboys. Schell also influenced the move to heeling from the right side instead of the left that had been the traditional style in his era.
The secret to Schell's success, according to rodeo cowboy Dale Smith, was that he "stayed horseback, had the best partners of his day and never claimed to be a good loser."
Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo
Since 1987, the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo (DNCFR) in Pocatello, Idaho, has been one of the most prestigious rodeos and is the crowning event of the PRCA's circuit system of regional competition.
Cowboys who qualify for the DNCFR compete for nearly $425,000 in prize money and national titles. Annually, sellout crowds at Holt Arena witness this elimination-style rodeo that features season circuit champions and circuit finals winners from each of the 12 circuits, which are based on geographical regions. The circuits showcase not only some of the sport's top competitors, but also cowboys who hold other jobs during the week and known as "weekend warriors."
The colorful history and the equally colorful legends of professional rodeo live on at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame is considered the highest accolade in the sport. While more than 100 nominations are submitted annually, only a small percentage are selected to join this elite group. The members of the Hall of Fame are divided into 14 categories: all-around cowboy; bareback riding; bull riding; contract personnel; lifetime achievement; livestock; media; notables; saddle bronc riding; steer roping; steer wrestling; stock contractors; team roping; and tie-down roping.
Since the Hall's opening in 1979 and not including the 2004 class, 167 people and 22 animals have been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. More than 40,000 visitors annually visit the 30,000-square-foot facility that is located adjacent to the national headquarters of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and on a 20-acre site in Colorado Springs.