All Inductees

Mark Baker

Mark Baker was born in Fort Worth Texas in 1952. His interest was drawn to horses and the rodeo lifestyle at an early age. At the early age of thirteen, Baker went to work for Texas Kid Jr., where he began roping calves and training horses. He was fortunate enough to come into contact with several individuals who would influence him to become an excellent hand with rodeo livestock and saddle horses. Some of his early teachers were Jack Ratjen and Billy Ford at the Kowbell Rodeo in Mansfield, Texas. Baker spent four years there and started riding bareback horses, as well as working with the livestock.

Baker got his permit in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1972 and earned his PRCA card in 1974. In 1975, he went to work for the Billy Minick Rodeo Company as a pickup man. Minick sold his rodeo company later that year to Mike Cervi Championship Rodeo Company. Baker remained with Cervi and worked as a pickup man until 1981. In 1981, he went to work for Beutler and Son Rodeo Company where he continued to work as a pickup man until 2004.

The role of a pickup man often goes unnoticed in the rodeo arena by the spectators. The cowboys on horseback move around the arena keeping the show moving by moving rodeo livestock out of the arena and sweeping in to set a bareback and saddle bronc rider on the ground after a successful ride. But to the bareback and saddle bronc riders the pickup man serves a vital role of not only getting the cowboy on the ground, but they are also ready and waiting in the vent a cowboy gets in a storm on his bronc. In 1991 Baker bulldogged a bareback horse during the opening performance of the NFR, to help free Billy Laye when his hand was stuck in his bareback rigging.

Pickup men serve a vital role in the rodeo arena, but sometimes their most spectacular performance occurs outside the rodeo arena, such as when an animal escapes the rodeo complex and gets loose in an unsuspecting city. Baker knows the experience firsthand such as the time he had to rope a bull that had gotten loose in Las Vegan. he made the catch only a block over from the famous Vegas Strip. Throughout his career Baker gave a tremendous amount of credit to the great horses he rode and the cowboys he picked up alongside.

Baker worked as a pickup man at most of the major rodeos such as Fort Worth, Houston, Nampa, Idaho and Denver, Colorado. He was selected to pickup at the Texas Circuit Finals four years, the Indian National Finals two years and the Prairie Circuit Finals three years. He was also selected to pickup at the ProTour Finals in Dallas three times. He was actively involved in helping to produce the Texas Circuit Finals for thirteen years. In 1991 Baker received his biggest honor when he was selected by the top thirty bareback and saddle bronc riders in the PRCA to pickup at the prestigious National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Neveda.

In 2007 Baker was named to oversee Hillwood Land & Cattle, which is the group responsible for overseeing ranching and farming operations at Hillwood’s, 17,000-acre Alliance Texas development, as well as other company properties in North Texas. A native of Fort Worth, Baker joined Hillwood in 2001.