Bob A. Robinson has been a pioneer, of sorts, in ProRodeo. His decades of work and achievements will be honored when he's inducted as part of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 July 15.
Robinson competed in the first two National Finals Rodeos in 1959 and 1960. He was the PRCA's second Rookie of the Year in 1957 and later became one of ProRodeo's first pro officials. Eventually, as an administrator, he helped move the NFR to Las Vegas, where it has resided since 1985.
It's a list of accomplishments that certainly qualify him for a place in the Hall of Fame. Still, Robinson was shocked and pleased to be chosen.
"I think it's a great honor," he said. "I was really surprised. I have some really good friends already in there, and it's just an honor to be in there with them. I could hardly believe the call when I got it."
Robinson got his start in rodeo early, helping his father break colts. He said he "didn't care if they bucked with me," so a career in rodeo seemed like a good fit. There weren't rodeo schools in his day, so he learned by trial and error, but "luckily enough, I got along pretty good."
He won the 1960 steer wrestling world title and finished second to Harry Tompkins in the all-around standings. That year, he picked up checks in five events steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding and team roping. Competing in the first installments of the NFR was exhilarating, he said.
"It was exciting, a really different concept," Robinson said. "We got 10 head, and it was really exciting. Everybody thought it sure had the potential to be big. It was a super rodeo."
Robinson's competitive days in the PRCA, however, were numbered. He injured his knee in 1963, and it eventually led to the end of his career.
"Today they can get it fixed right away, but I didn't, and that was a big mistake," he said. "I tried to rodeo with it, kept injuring it, and finally the following year I had it operated on, but it never came back as good as it was."
Not feeling at the top of his game anymore, Robinson moved on. Then, in 1980, he became one of the first pro officials when a friend suggested he give it a try. He went on to judge the College National Finals Rodeo, the High School Finals Rodeo, the Senior Finals Rodeo and even the NFR one year.
"I enjoyed it, and I got to travel a lot," he said. "I got to see a lot of people and got to watch a lot of good rodeo."
Robinson became Director of Rodeo Administration for the PRCA in 1982, a job he held until 1986. During his time, he helped establish the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo and had a hand in moving the NFR to Las Vegas.
He's flagged the line for timed events at Cheyenne Frontier Days for the past two decades. This year will mark his 20th and last time to do so. And although he's calling it quits there, Robinson will never give up rodeo all together.
He still ropes with his family, including five grandchildren, which consists of rodeo cowboys and cowgirls. Robinson still finds time to compete too, evidenced by his achievements in 2004 when he placed second in the senior team roping at the Caldwell Night Rodeo. That came 52 years after he won the Northwest Amateur Bronc Riding saddle in Pendleton, Ore., in 1952, showing just how long Robinson's storied career has spanned.
"I like to think I'm a little competitive," Robinson said. "I love rodeo."
And as he'll find out in Colorado Springs, Colo., on July 15, rodeo loves him too.