Many, if not most, of “my” best ideas come from our dinner table, when three generations get together to eat and talk. I often ask my family who they’d be interested in readingI’m guess about. When I popped the question for this issue right before the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, my son Lane immediately fired back, “Allen Bach. He made his first NFR in 1978, the year George Richards won the world, and this year heeled the last steer of the year for George’s son, Tom, to help him get to his first Finals. Allen’s a four-time world champ, has roped at 30 NFRs, which is more than any other team roper in history, and is the only team roper ever to climb from 15th to first over the course of the Finals to win the world.”
Kendra Santos: OK, Big Al, so if you were born in 1957 that makes you 57. How’d that happen?
Allen Bach: What a lucky guy to get to do what I love for 35 years. I’ve been around 20-year-olds all my life, starting when I was 20 and still today. I think that’s kept me young, along with roping and staying active. I think young, and I feel young.
KS: You have four world championships ranging from 1979-2006. Tell me the one thing that stands out most about each of them.
AB: So many crazy things had to happen at the Finals in 1979 for me to win it. The guy winning the average had to go out, another guy had to break the barrier and another guy had to rope a leg. It all happened. In 1990 I went in 15th, had a great Finals with Doyle Gellerman, and climbed all the way to first. Doyle turned me so many fast steers it was crazy. I didn’t win the world in 1993, but that NFR was probably the greatest time of my life. Bobby Hurley and I won five go-rounds in a row and Bobby won the world (that was before world champion headers and heelers were named; Allen was the high-money heeler for the year). There was one steer at the Finals in 1995 that was the buzz because he ducked his head and was horrible. Nobody had caught him, and Bobby and I drew him in the 10th round. Bobby got him, and we won the world. Mark Arnold bought that steer and took him home. Daniel Green tried to rope him several times at Mark’s after the Finals and couldn’t do it. The two years Bobby won the world with me he had to win the 10th round in ’93 and he had to catch the head ducker in ’95. In both cases he got it done. When I won my last title roping with Chad (Masters) in 2006, I took a wild shot down by the bucking chutes in the 10th round. I was riding Jackyl, and it was a little crazy trying to get to the horn as hard as Jackyl stopped.
Ks: You’ve roped at 30 NFRs, the first one in 1978 and the last one in 2008. Do you have more in you?
AB: I think so. (Dr.) Tandy (Freeman) fixed my arm for me a year ago (rotator cuff surgery on his right shoulder). If that’s what I decide to do, I feel like I can do it. I’m planning to focus on business this next year, but I’m going to keep my roping sharp. Then we’ll see.
KS: Clay O is next in the most NFR team roping qualifications line with 28 appearances. What do you admire most about Champ?
AB: His mind. He’s been so mentally tough throughout the years. That’s allowed him to not ride the emotional roller coaster all the time. He’s had adversities like all of us, but he’s been so steady. I admire Clay’s concentration and focus.
KS: Explain how you ended up roping that last steer of the regular season with Tom Richards at Omaha, and how it felt to be 3.9 on that stage at this stage?
AB: Cesar (de la Cruz) had won that rodeo the year before with Derrick (Begay), so they were already in (the Wrangler Champions Challenge) together. I was the next heeler down from Cesar who wasn’t already in. What a long-shot deal that was. Tom asked my advice before that steer, and I said, “If I were you, I wouldn’t change a thing.” Watching Tom was amazing. You couldn’t tell he had the butterflies.
KS: What’s your Junior Nogueira connection?AB: Junior came to my first roping school in Brazil, when he was a little kid. Charles Pogue and I put it on. He came to the second one also, and I really connected with Junior at that second school. Getting to spend this last summer around him—Joel and I buddied with Jake (Barnes) and Junior—was really special. Junior rode my horse Jaguar at the NFR.