Andover resident John McBeth has been awarded just about every accolade available to a rodeo cowboy. He won the title of World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider in 1974, and after a long career participating in and promoting the sport of rodeo was recently enshrined in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame (2010), and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center (2013).
In the new book Eight Seconds of Grace: The Stories of John McBeth author Thad Beery collaborates with McBeth to recount his life and career. The reader is treated to the sights and sounds that held sway in the champion’s mind in 33 stories of great broncs and great men, stories of strife and character, stories of cowboys on the road and the humor and camaraderie that sustained them. Through interviews with multiple world champions, hall of fame cowboys, announcers, stock contractors, his fellow competitors and students, a picture is painted of the Kansas cowboy who seemingly could do no wrong. These are stories of John McBeth and about John McBeth. Stories that define not only who he is and was, but through him describe an entire generation of the truly All-American sport—rodeo.
McBeth was born and raised near Kingman, Kansas, where he milked cows and broke colts with his father on the family farm. That experience led him to a successful amateur rodeo career where he won or placed at most of the rodeos held across the state. During those years he became acquainted with the cowboys, the stock contractors, the judges, and committee people in the area. When he moved on to pro rodeo, traveling coast to coast, he maintained those close ties to Kansas, entering an inordinate number of rodeos in his home state on his way to six Prairie Circuit Championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. McBeth served as Secretary of the Prairie Circuit for ten years, promoting the sport and organizing the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo. According to Hadley Barrett, Prairie Circuit Announcer of the Year, the finals rodeo organized by McBeth and held in the Kansas Coliseum in Wichita in 1979 was unequaled: “He [John] put the whole thing together. It was a miniature National Finals Rodeo . . . a first class event. I know that long before and long since we have not equaled that . . . he was definitely the guy.”
Over the course of his rodeo career John McBeth has been a world champion saddle bronc rider, a horseman, a teacher, a mentor, a businessman, a diplomat, a saddle maker, a pilot, a TV commentator, a rodeo judge and administrator. Above all he is a gifted story teller. The book is available from Amazon.com in paperback or electronic (Kindle) versions.