Arizona Diamondbacks (CNN)(02/25/20)— This wasn’t his first rodeo. Literally. Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, and until the weekend, he quietly was enjoying another hobby.
Bumgarner, 30, told The Athletic that he had been using the alias Mason Saunders to take part in rodeo events, explaining to the sports news website he has been competing under the alias to try not to attract attention.
The surname is from his wife’s maiden name. “Mason” is short for “Madison,” which, Bumgarner said to The Athletic, is “something for my wife to call me when we were out in public to keep people from recognizing me.”
The three-time World Series champion and 2014 World Series MVP then added: “But you’re going to ruin that for me.”
In early December, Bumgarner won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Two photos were posted on Rancho Rio’s Facebook page. One shows Bumgarner competing on horseback, while the other shows him after he earned his winnings, with the pitcher giving a smile in the blurry photo.
“Oh boy,” Bumgarner said to The Athletic on Sunday, when shown a photo of himself. “This is ruining my alias.”
A couple weeks after his rodeo success, Bumgarner signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Diamondbacks in December, after playing his first 11 MLB seasons with the San Francisco Giants.
Bumgarner, a four-time All-Star, won the World Series with the Giants in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
In an interview with MLB.com in 2016, Bumgarner, who grew up in rural North Carolina, said he learned roping from his future father-in-law when he was around 15 or 16 years old.
He also said at the time that rodeo could become more than just a hobby once he retires from baseball.
The Athletic asked the Diamondbacks if it was OK for their star pitcher to rope while under contract, and general manager Mike Hazen said that he would not get into specific contract language.
Previously, when Bumgarner was with the Giants, he missed three months of the 2017 season after suffering a shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, at the time calling it “definitely not the most responsible decision” he had made.
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