In the late 1930s, Cal Farley was playing semiprofessional baseball by day and wrestling by night in Amarillo, Texas. Mr. Farley, a World War I veteran with an engaging personality, was a fan favorite at the ballpark, where he would deliberately hit foul balls over the fence to children gathered there, knowing they could exchange these balls for a free ticket to the game. Mr. Farley realized some of these children were hanging around the ballpark when they should have been in school, and he soon found many of them came from broken homes where guidance, supervision and love often were missing.
Mr. Farley began looking for ways to help these children and, in the fall of 1938, Texas Panhandle rancher Julian Bivins agreed to support the cause. Bivins donated about 120 acres of land 36 miles northwest of Amarillo. The following March, Mr. Farley established his boys ranch at the site, which long before had been home to Tascosa, a raucous pioneer town. On land that once was known for gun fights and barroom brawls, Boys Ranch residents learned the value of integrity and an honest day’s work.
The Boys Ranch population quickly grew and, in 1944, Mr. Farley sought to bolster the boys’ social education by hosting a rodeo. About one hundred people showed up, but the idea took root. Now, thousands attend the annual Boys Ranch Rodeo.
Over the years, Boys Ranch programs have expanded to include girls and help families create and maintain a warm, nurturing environment for children, yet still we hold true to the values set over seven decades, and still we prepare young people to become responsible citizens.