The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association announced the 2012 ProRodeo Hall of Fame class, and all the inductees have earned the right to their place in that magical building in Colorado Springs.
Congratulations to Robert and Billy Etbauer, three-time world champion Frank Schneider, three-time Bareback Horse of the Year Khadafy Skoal, five-time National Finals Rodeo barrelman John Taylor, rodeo administrator Hal Littrell and the Dodge City (Kan.) Round-Up, a nine-time winner of the PRCA Rodeo Committee of the Year award.
Between them, the Etbauers own seven saddle bronc riding world championships and 33 NFR qualifications – Billy owns five gold buckles and made 21 straight trips to Las Vegas from 1989-2009.
But there are a couple of names missing from this list: Dan Etbauer and Craig Latham. They were part of that fabulous quartet that helped raise awareness to ProRodeo and its classic event, saddle bronc riding. Dan is the youngest of the three Etbauers and a 10-time NFR qualifier; Latham is a nine-time qualifier.
In addition to the gold buckles, all four of the cowboys finished as reserve world champions at least once in their storied careers. Dan Etbauer and Latham have remained a big part of the sport since they quit riding broncs about a decade ago.
Dan Etbauer is one of few men to have competed in and picked up at the NFR, and Billy Etbauer credits Latham for being a major player in Billy’s $3 million career. You see, even after Latham focused his attention on his family and coaching the Oklahoma Panhandle State University rodeo team, he still did all the entering for Billy.
The men were recognized as the four Etbauers because of what they did together. They revolutionized the sport by pooling their winnings, sharing a true team atmosphere in a sport that focuses on individual accomplishments. At a time when sponsorships were just slipping into rodeo’s mainstream, the Etbauers and Latham secured identical sponsorships with Express Ranches and wore matching attire throughout the remainder of their rodeo careers. In fact, Billy Etbauer still wears the Express brand wherever he goes.
While I agree that Robert and Billy have the credentials to get in by themselves, the best part of that story is what the four of them did together.
Dan Etbauer and Craig Latham should be enshrined in July, too.