February 24, 2020

Mason Saunders, Long-Time Bull-Roping Enthusiast, Also Enjoys Playing Baseball

Mason Saunders and Jaxson Tucker won $26,500 in a team-roping rodeo competition last December in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Saunders learned bull-roping when he was 15 or 16, and he's been doing it for roughly half his life. "It's just part of who you are". (He and Tucker grew up 30 minutes from each other in North Carolina.) Team roping involves two people, one rider roping the head of the steer while the other ropes its back legs.

Although Saunders has been involved in the rodeo community for years, he's also well-known to many people whose knowledge of rodeos is either non-existent or limited to Baskets the Clown.

To those people, Saunders is known by a different name.

Madison Bumgarner.

He says "everybody" in baseball knows about his rodeo life. "Word gets around." ... Well, almost everyone. "The media didn't know ... until now." Back in 2016, Bumgarner admitted he had entered rodeos before, but made no mention of using an alias.
They are smaller rodeos. I have never bought a PRCA [Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association] card. Obviously, even if I fill it out I won't be able to go all year, and the heavy season for the PRCA is during the summer months. ... When I get done [playing baseball], I'd like to be able to fill out the card. ... I look up to a lot of those guys. ... I have a lot of really good friends in the rodeo world. ... I heel more than I head. My brother-in-law [Tanner Saunders] is a header, so it doesn't make such sense for me to be a header, too. We rope together a lot in the winter time, so I will be the heeler.
Last March, Bumgarner competed in a rodeo during spring training - three days before pitching three innings for the Giants in a Cactus League game against the Athletics.

Bumgarner learned roping and met Ali, his future wife, around the same time. (He used her birth name and a shortened form of Madison for his alias.)
I met my wife when we were 16. Her family had a few more horses, performance horses. Her family team-roped. ... I wanted to try it, but I wanted to know somebody really good to learn from. That was her dad, Mark Saunders, and brother, Tanner. ... [I'm n]ot good enough to please myself or to be as successful as I want to be. Everything I do, I take very serious. ... I want to master things. It drives me in everything I do.
Now, Bumgarner's secret is out. His Baseball-Reference page includes: "Alter Ego: Mason Saunders", with a link to The Athletic story.


johngoldfine said...

I read this story and can't help thinking of Jim Lonborg and his skiing accident.

Rodeos are stupid and ugly in the first place, and in the second, do the DBs, for their own protection, not have any contractual way to rein in MadBum's exuberance?

Paul Hickman said...

I need to ask .......

Has he per chance been seen at Goat Rodeos ????