- Dec 4, 2009
The picture is a bit blurry.
The photo is of two men standing in front of a backdrop featuring the logo of Rancho Rio Arena in Wickenburg, Ariz. They’ve just won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition, although the shorter man looks without emotion at the camera even as he holds an envelope full of cash. But the taller man — his thumbs in his front jeans pockets and clad in a huge belt buckle, checkered button-down shirt and Rancho Rio cap — wears a satisfied smile.
The photo was one of several posted on Rancho Rio’s Facebook Page this past December, and the accompanying congratulatory caption identifies the pair as Jaxson Tucker and Mason Saunders. Tucker is a rodeo pro out of North Carolina. Saunders is also a North Carolinian, although you probably know him by a different name. The grinning man in that photo, despite the image’s fuzziness, is instantly recognizable to many who don’t know a thing about roping.
That’s because he’s Madison Bumgarner.
“Oh boy,” Bumgarner said Sunday when shown the photo. “This is ruining my alias.”
Yes, that was him in the photo and another one showing him competing on horseback, Bumgarner confirmed after throwing a live bullpen session Sunday at Salt River Fields. It was taken Dec. 3, a little less than two weeks before he signed his five-year, $85-million contract with the Diamondbacks. “They don’t always take pictures,” he added. “That was a bigger one.” A few days later, “Mason Saunders” earned a second-place finish in another eventalongside a different partner, Ranger Hill.
That competition wasn’t a one-off, either. One of the most famous pitchers in baseball has been competing in team-roping events under an alias for some time. Was he the Mason Saunders who competed alongside Colorado-based roper Tammy Ellerman in March of last year, two days before Bumgarner pitched for the Giants in a Cactus League game against the Athletics? “That was me, too,” Bumgarner said. Has “Saunders” won other events? “Yeah,” he said. “Maybe.”
Lots of people knew the Diamondbacks' new pitcher was a horseman. But about that team roping ...
I am surprised that Madison Bumgarner didn’t learn his lesson after the ATV accident.