Good God, It's Mr. T!

Date: 09/22/97

Only Three Cowboys Ever Rode this Notorious Bull.

By Janet Williamsen My best day at a rodeo was also my worst day. It was the summer of 1989 and we had been following the story of a 1700-pound, black-speckled Brahma bull with a 30-inch rack of horns named Mr. T which had never been rode.

Legends Buckle from Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo

Mr. T built up his reputation by throwing somewhere between 150 and 180 cowboys in a five-year time span. My family and I made a special 4th of July trip up to the Steamboat Springs Rodeo just because we'd heard a rumor that Mr. T would be bucked there. We enjoyed the rodeo, the parade, and the pancake breakfast, but were pretty disappointed when they didn't buck Mr. T. I guess we never did hear that he would be at the Greeley Independence Day Stampede rodeo where Marty Staneart managed to hold on for 7.8 seconds. So, it was with some anticipation during the 1989 Cheyenne Frontier Days finals that we anxiously waited to see the legendary Mr. T.

Mr. T earned his reputation for being mean. Mr. T was owned by Pete Burns of the Burns Rodeo Company in Laramie, Wyoming. Burns liked to say that this bull was like his namesake "big, black, and mean" referring to the television character Mr. T. But the difference was that this bull wasn't acting. He was born mean! A picture of him trying to hook Chuck Simonson appeared on the cover of the 1988 National Finals program and he tried hard to hook Donnie Gay at the National Western in Denver.

"In his career, Mr. T bucked off every bull riding champ of the 1980s. Hedeman, Sharp, Don Gay, Charles Sampson, Lane Frost, Cody Snyder -- all succumbed to his amazing power." Ehringer p.97. In 1985, Cody Lambert who drew him for the final round of the NFR, said "I felt like I could ride him, and before I knew it, I was on my head." Ehringer p.97. Lane Frost tried to ride Mr. T twice, and Mr. T sent him to the hospital both times. At the 1989 NFR, Jim Sharp had ridden nine consecutive bulls and drew Mr. T for the final round. He'd ridden all 10 of his bulls the year before, and in fact, he was on quite an unprecedented riding streak as this ride could make it 24 consecutive NFR rides. "The big black-and-white bull cracked out of the chute, and three jumps later, Sharp's streak had ended." Ehringer p.97.

Only three cowboys ever rode Mr. T. They were Marty Staneart (93), Raymond Wessel (86), and Ty Murray (87). All of these scores set arena records. Mr. T was voted bucking bull of the year in 1986 by the cowboys and was named bucking bull of the National Finals Rodeo in both 1986 and 1989.

My Best Day at the Rodeo Was Also My Worst

So on the final day of the 93rd Daddy of 'Em All, when Marty Staneart gave the nod, my eyes (along with over 10,000 other rodeo fans) were riveted on him when he became the first cowboy ever to ride that mean son-of-a-buck for a 93-point Cheyenne arena record! The best ride I'd ever seen! The crowd jumped to its feet and went wild with excitement. We were still standing and smiling and cheering in total amazement over this wild ride when we heard the announcement that Lane Frost was next up in the chutes. It seemed like he came out too fast... We weren't quite ready... In my memory, Lane's last ride still repeats in slow motion. He rides his bull and gets off, but then he's on the ground with the bull crashing against his left side. Then Lane jumps up and runs toward the chutes motioning for help with one hand in the air. Then he collapses, and within seconds, it's the worst day I've ever had at a rodeo.

Good God, It's Mr. T!

Pete Burns agreed to let fellow stock contractor John Gowney (who also owned Red Rock) take Mr. T home for retirement after the 1990 NFR:

"On the way home, he stopped at a college where some 15-20 young cowboys were practicing bull riding. John said 'I've got one in the trailer you can't ride,'" Pete recalls. 'Those guys know John real well, and they said 'Oh, that garbage you haul, John, we can ride anything you got.' John said, 'You can't ride this one.' They went over there and one said 'Good God, it's Mr. T.' The kids knew who it was right away." Fromkin.

Mr. T died in April of 1994 at the age of 16.

Sources

Mr. T Commemorated
By Jay Fromkin, Reprinted in ChuteScoop, A Publication for Friends and Fans of Cheyenne Frontier Days, June 1997.
There Will Never Be Another Bull Like Mr. T
By Jay Fromkin, Excerpts from the Laramie Daily Boomerang, 1991.
Rodeo Arena - Mr. T and Pacific Bell
By Gavin Ehringer, Western Horseman Magazine, July 1994, p.97.
Staneart Tames Mr. T
By John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News, July 31, 1989, p.12.

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