My Favorite Cowboys Who Don’t Play One on TV
We all know about the actors who play cowboys, but you might be shocked to know who among the celebrity crowd are the real thing. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve heard of Madison Baumgarner, the pitcher who led the San Francisco to the World Series title in 2014 and was named the MVP. This long, lanky North Carolina boy doesn’t just have a 90 plus mile-an-hour fastball. He also throws a pretty mean loop. He’s ridden horses all his life and started team roping when he met his future wife, whose family is involved in rodeo. And since his spring training is in Arizona—a hotbed of team ropers—he brings his horses along to squeeze in a few roping sessions in his spare time. I’m sure his manager is thrilled.
I love this interview discussing similarities between baseball and rodeo. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s chatting with Stran Smith—once named to People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful list—and the all-time winningest cowboy in professional rodeo, Trevor Brazile, who gets a gold buckle for world champion dimples.
James Pickens Jr. sounds like a born and bred cowboy name, but you’re more likely to know him as Dr. Richard Webber on Grey’s Anatomy. Despite growing up in Cleveland, Pickens had been involved with horses from early on. Twenty some years ago on a movie set, a cowboy working as a transport driver had brought along a roping dummy and was throwing a few practice loops to kill time. Intrigued, Pickens asked to give it a try…and he was hooked. He is now a card-holding member of the United States Team Roping Championships association and produces his own prestigious charity event each year. And yeah, I had to include this particular picture because the winning cowboy on the left is Dustin Bird from right here in my home town of Cut Bank, Montana.
In the Texas Rodeo books, team roping is Shawnee Pickett’s main event, though she’s put it on the back burner to fill in as a pickup man at Jacobs Livestock’s rodeos. Despite his dread of competition, in the excerpt below, Cole agrees to be her partner so she can get a roping fix on one of their off days. Now that’s my kind of hero.