A masquerade ball with a Western flair wasn’t the image Bob Tallman had in mind for the night he’d be recognized as the 2020 Legend of ProRodeo.
But as the “biggest honky tonk in the world” filled with what appeared to be 2020’s version of a bunch of masked bandits, the Nevada cowboy had plenty of reasons to be walking tall at the Wrangler Gold Buckle Gala at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, Nov. 30.
“We attract a certain amount of attention because of the way we dress,” Tallman said as he regaled the audience about a recent experience with a deli worker who wanted to wear his hat in a photo. “That guy in that Tom Thumb (grocery store) deli last night inspired me to be better at being ‘this guy’ tonight.”
The 10-time PRCA Announcer of the Year and 2004 inductee to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame had hosted the Gold Buckle Gala numerous times, but Monday night was Tallman’s turn to be on the receiving end of the microphone.
“Bob Tallman could paint a picture with words,” emcee Boyd Polhamus said. “Somebody else will inform you. They’ll give you the score and the time, but Bob will tell you how he got it.”
Born Oct. 25, 1947, in Winnemucca, Nev., Tallman grew up on a ranch and tried his hand as a rodeo competitor, but he quickly discovered his forte was behind a microphone, as evidenced by his first PRCA Announcer of the Year Award in 1982.
During a career that has spanned more than five decades, Tallman has announced more than 15,000 rodeo performances in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Tallman will work his record 26th Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Dec. 3-12.
“Some of us have talent, but you have a gift,” Polhamus said. “Here’s when I realized I could never be as good as you – we were announcing a rodeo in Houston one time and this horse was bucking down the arena, its ears are pinned back and all of a sudden this horse’s ears fly forward and he swoops to the left, and I said, ‘Wow, what an amazing swoop.’ But you know what Bob Tallman said? ‘You see that horse? He looked like he just saw a snake crawl out from underneath a rock.’ I remarked, ‘That is the most perfect way to describe that,’ and I remember asking you how you came up with that in your head and you said, ‘Boyd, I lived it.'”
Tallman is the 15th person to be honored as the Legend of ProRodeo, following Jake Barnes, Jim Shoulders, Clem McSpadden, Harry Vold, Larry Mahan, Shawn Davis, Dean Oliver, Donnie Gay, Benny Binion, Mel Potter, Neal Gay, Michael Gaughan, Keith Martin and Cotton Rosser.
“All of the other 14 men on this list, 10 have called and a couple have gone (passed away), to say, ‘Welcome to the club’ and ‘How do you get to be in the club? You and I created one 25 years ago,'” Tallman said. “You need to understand that with the family support, business support, friendship support, and for all of you that have supported me – I want to run backwards at times these days to try to find a way to back up and say, ‘I’m sorry I went by you so fast, I really wasn’t that busy but I was hiding.’ … I’ve been backstage for an hour and a half because I’m in this (COVID-19) compliance thing. I’m not hiding. But I’m playing by the rules.”
As for the “masked bandits” in the audience, the COVID-conscious cowboys did the opposite of rob the joint – they raised a collective $57,400 for the ProRodeo Hall of Fame during the live auction with more to be added from individual donations and the silent auction.
Courtesy of PRCA