It’s official! Allen Bach is a Hall of Famer. The four-time champ of the world—who won gold team roping buckles dated 1979, 1990, 1995 and 2006, and roped at a record 30 Wrangler National Finals Rodeos between 1978 and 2008—headlined the ProRodeo Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 at the August 3 induction ceremonies in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At 62, the rodeo world’s beloved Big Al now takes his rightful place in rodeo history for the rest of time.
“I have to admit, it was really cool,” said the ever-humble Bach. “I got to hear some pretty cool old rodeo stories from guys like Bennie Beutler that I’d never heard before, and I definitely feel honored. Everyone who showed up to help us experience it was so kind. What a nice closure to a great career. I loved it. I totally believe God put me on this planet to rope, and my whole life has been in the rodeo and roping industry.”
All four of Allen and Peggy’s kids—Joel, April, Erica and Tyler—came from far and wide to celebrate the patriarch’s ultimate, crowning career achievement.
“It brought tears to my eyes to look out and see them all there when I stepped up onto that stage,” Allen said. “Peggy and I hauled those kids all over the darn country. We had a family meeting about halfway through my career, and I told them all if they wanted me to quit, I’d do it right then—all they had to do was say the word. They all said absolutely not, that’s who you are. They were all 100 percent about saying, ‘Heck no, you’re not pulling up and staying home now.’”
Every cowboy who’s in it for the long haul also develops of family of friends out there on the rodeo trail. Two of Allen’s closest cowboy compadres from the start have been dream teamers Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper.
“Allen’s the guy who dragged me into this rat race in the first place,” Jake joked. “In 1980, Allen was the reigning world champion team roper from 1979, and I was a 21-year-old kid going to college in Portales (New Mexico) and amateur rodeoing in South Texas. Allen had heard about me, but he’d never seen me rope before. I got a phone call one day about halfway through the season in 1980, and he asked me to rope. Our first rodeo together was North Platte, Nebraska, in June.
“Allen was my first partner when I joined the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), and I don’t think the poor guy knew what he was getting himself into when he took me on as a mid-season project. I was John Deere green. I’d roped at jackpots and amateur rodeos, but I’d never traveled very far. Suddenly, it was like The Amazing Race, and I was not prepared for it. But Allen was just persistent and hard-headed enough that he made the dream come true.”
Jake qualified for his first of 27 NFRs heading for Allen that year, in 1980. And they by the way buddied with another young-buck team by the name of Bret Beach and Clay O’Brien Cooper. All these years later, Allen, Clay and Jake are 1-2-3 on the all-time most NFRs made by any team ropers ever list with 30, 29 and 27, respectively.
“Allen was so dominant in his career,” Jake continued. “He’s only a couple years older than me, but when we started roping, it was like he was a grown man and I was a dumb kid. He did all the entering and planning. There were no rodeo limits back then, so we were going to 120 rodeos a year. I just followed his lead. And it wasn’t always easy to keep up. Allen was the master at entering rodeos, and he was also the jackpot king.
“The reason Allen had so much longevity in his career is because there’s no quit in him. Allen’s the ultimate warrior, and when he had something in mind there was no holding him back. My blessings in this line of work all started with Allen. He was a great mentor and a workaholic. If it wasn’t for Allen Bach, there might never have been a Jake Barnes anyone had ever heard of.
“I was just a poor kid from New Mexico who liked to rope when I got an invitation to the big leagues from Allen. He’s as deserving as anyone to be in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to make the Finals or win the world one time. Allen earned his way into rodeo’s record books.”
The heeling half of Jake and Clay concurs.
“Allen is definitely a hall of famer in and out of the arena,” Clay said. “He was a relentless competitor and just an absolute winner and grinder. He’s also a guy who has gone out of his way to help others. He helped me when I was just getting started, and never quit. When Bret and I buddied with Jake and Allen, we were inseparable. Allen was very helpful to me as a mentor and a friend. He was just always there with anything I needed.
“Throughout our careers, Allen and I have enjoyed competing against each other ferociously. But it’s also been a very close camaraderie and friendship. When he won, I was so happy, because I knew Allen’s heart, his family, his determination and his work ethic. He deserved everything he ever won. I have very high regard for Allen as a person and a cowboy.”
These are greats who don’t take winning or those who’ve stood the test of time in their corners for granted.
“My career was long,” Allen said. “I owe so much to Peggy for being the best friend I could ever have. She videoed all 300 of those NFR performances year after year, and we went back to the room and broke down every single run night after night. I told everyone at the induction ceremony that I was accepting this honor on behalf of all of us—Peggy, Joel, April, Erica, Tyler and me—because they all deserve equal credit for all of it. What an amazing family to stand behind me like they have. To some degree, it has to be all about you to make it at the highest level. That my family would stand behind me and embrace my goals and dreams and ambitions is extraordinary.”