Born to sell: Mike Samples honored to join his 'heroes' in the cattle-auction business

Courtney Blankenship
Pratt Tribune
Brian Winter presents Mike Samples (right) with a plaque in honor of his  years marketing cattle for Pratt Livestock and as an inductee in the Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame.

A little over a month ago, Michael T. Samples of Pratt received news that he would have the honor of being inducted into the second annual Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame for achievements accumulated throughout his career. A special ceremony took place during the regular Thursday cattle auction on July 29 to add Samples to the list of area livestock heroes at Pratt Livestock.

Samples, who became manager of Farmers and Ranchers Livestock in 1987 and assumed ownership soon after, said that he felt very honored and shocked that he was selected to enter the Hall of Fame. Having grown up on a farm in Southeast Kansas, in the small town of Erie, Samples said he enjoys the market business and thrives on livestock market.

“Other people that went in [the Hall of Fame] ahead of me-- I don’t know-- a couple of them are certainly heroes of mine and I admire them greatly,” Samples said. “So, it was very nice when the Winters family called me [and] told me that they wanted to induct me into the Hall of Fame.”

While Samples has known about the induction for weeks, he received his official plaque during a sale at Salina Farmers and Ranchers sale barn last week, on Thursday, July 29. The actual ceremony in Pratt was held on August 5, but Samples was not personally able to attend due to a sale he had the same day.

Brian Winter, manager and co-owner of Winter Livestock, presented Samples with his plaque in front of a crowd of sale attendees while Pratt Livestock Auctioneer and 2013 World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Dustin Focht, spoke about his life and accomplishments.

Started by the Winter family a few years ago, inductions were put on hold during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this is the second year for Hall of Fame inductions. There is no application process-- Instead, inductees are selected for the honor.

The first Hall of Fame class was inducted in 2019 and consisted of four inductees, including Bill Griffeth and Tom Gilliam of Oklahoma City; the late Patrick Goggins, of Billings, Montana, and former owner of Pratt Livestock, Mike Lewis.

This year, there were a total of three inductees, including Tom Frey of Centennial Livestock in Fort Collins, Colorado, Karl Mark Winter of Winter Livestock in Dodge City, Kansas, and Samples. Though Samples was not able to attend, the other two inductees were inducted on August 5.

“I feel very honored to be inducted into the hall of fame,” Samples said.

Brian Winter and his brother, Mark Winter, started the Hall of Fame in order to honor the contributions of exceptional cattlemen, so the idea became reality.

“My brother Mark and myself-- we’re very excited for Mike Samples to be inducted into the 2021 Cattle Marketing Hall of Fame,” Winter said. “Mike exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding contributor to competitive marketing and true price discovery.”