Inducted in 2004
“I never gave up or quit,” says World Champion roper Joe Beaver recalling of one of his record-breaking rodeo seasons. “That’s what rodeo and life have in common: It ain’t over ‘til you say so.” Joe Beaver is one of the greatest ropers in the history of professional rodeo and the Ellensburg Rodeo, where he won five gold buckles, has served as a prime venue for his talents. His induction into the Ellensburg Hall of Fame will cement that distinction for posterity.
Joe Beaver was born to Walter and Bonnie Beaver of Victoria, Texas, on October 13, 1965. Standing six-foot three inches tall and 230 pounds, he entered his first PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) rodeo at age twenty and never looked back. He Named Pro Rodeo’s 1985’s “Rookie of the Year” Beaver has consistently finished among the money leaders for nearly two decades. Much of his fame has come from calf roping competitions, but the burly Texan also earned bushels of prize money in the team roping and steer roping events.
Beaver had to overcome adversity throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s as his career paralleled that of seven-time World All-Around Champion roughstock rider Ty Murray, then the winningest rodeo cowboy of all time. Although the two worked different sides of the arena, Murray often stood between Beaver and the dollar winnings necessary to take the coveted World All-Around title. On four years Beaver came up a little short, placing second in the All-Around. But “it ain’t over ‘til you say so,” and Beaver successfully overtook Murray and many others (including top ropers Herbert Theriot and Fred Whitfield) to win a combined total of eight calf roping and all-around titles.
During his storied career, Beaver has ridden several great horses, including Legacy, Jet, Scooby Doo (who he rode twenty-four consecutive years) and Pat. Commenting on Pat’s talent and reliability, Beaver once joked that he and the horse had made a deal: “I don’t try to make him run any farther than he has to, and he doesn’t try to make me run any farther than I have to.”
Beaver’ fourteen year-old son, Brody, grew up on the “rodeo road,” traveling with his dad across North America throughout the 1990s. When Beaver won the Ellensburg All-Around in 1998, the Daily Record’s front page carried a picture him and Brody.
In Ellensburg, Joe Beaver became dominant in the 1990s, winning the calf roping in three times (’92, ’94, ’95) and the Ellensburg All-Around title twice, (‘94 and ’98). At the World level his numbers put him among the all-time greats, winning five PRCA World calf roping title (’85, ’87, ’88, ’92, ’93) and three World All-Around Championship in ’95, ’96, and 2000. He has qualified for the National Finals Rodeo nineteen times and, as of the 2003 final standings, holds the PRCA career earnings record of $2,363,361. The talented Texan was a 2002 Inductee to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, joining the sport’s finest athletes and personalities.
Beaver, respected by fans and peers alike for his grit and professionalism, says, “It means something to me to be the same guy every day,” he states, “no matter where I am or what I am doing.”