When Milton Tate was 14 years old he headed for county fairs to take on all comers at horseshoe pitching.
But he also raced bicycles, bowled, played football and ran track at Knoxville High School. Later he was a welder and a bowling pinspotter mechanic.
But the art of making a horseshoe curl around a stake was the skill that made his name a household word among those who threw the iron.
In the early stages of his career he won the Illinois state tournament four times between 1930 and 1937. He tossed 1,036 ringers in winning in1937 at Springfield.
The Eastern regionals were held in Peoria in 1955. He won that one. The next year the tournament was in Erie, Pa. He won that, too.
Tate pitched in the World tournament between 1952 and 1959. He won the Class B division in 1953. In Class A he was third in 1959, fifth another year. He never finished less than seventh.
He won the Utah State tournament in 1961, the Rocky Mountain Open in 1956 and took the Heart of Illinois title five times starting in 1962.
In 1956 Chicago television station WMAQ produced a series called Championship Horseshoes. In each show two horse-shoers went head to head and the winner kept on the show. Tate won eight matches and won as many golden horseshoes.
He threw ringers, and won, all over the state. He won at Moline, Canton, Galesburg, Colchester, Sterling, and Rock Island.
One of his most memorable games was in Peoria at Bradley Park against another famed tosser, Truman Standard of Canton. Tate threw 56 consecutive ringers against Standard - and lost!
He died in 1983.