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He's got golden shoes

Picture yourself tossing a 2.25 pound horseshoe a few times along a 30-foot playing stretch. Now, picture yourself throwing that horseshoe 40 times aiming to make a ringer during each of the six rounds you play at New York State Horseshoe Pitching Championship held the Sept. 4. Patrick McCarthy of Oneida, 83, threw each shoe with ease, including six double-ringers against the No. 1 seed, during the state tournament in the elders' class competition. McCarthy took up horseshoes as a hobby more than nine years ago after he sold his 33-year Oneida area car dealership business, McCarthy Chevrolet Buick.

While many of his competitors have been pitching shoes from a young age, McCarthy said he found a hidden talent within himself. He has played in final matches against pitchers in their early 20s who have asked him to "cut them some slack," when the competition was heating up.

"When I told him how old I was, he threw down his shoes and ran to the fence to tell his friends," McCarthy said.

One of his toughest matches in South Berlin, Fla., placed him in quadruple overtime against a 35-year-old that he called him a "tough old steak that wasn't going away."

To see what the game was all about, he went to a horseshoe club night in Syracuse a few months after he retired from the car business in 1999.

In order to qualify for competition, McCarthy had to get a certified average from a horseshoe club. At the time, McCarthy said he didn't know of any horseshoe teams or clubs in Madison County until he heard of a club in Camden.

{Q}"They told me I had a high average going to Camden and that I would win," McCarthy said.{Q}

Unaware of how good he really was, McCarthy easily dominated the field in his first competition, walking away with a first place trophy, a horseshoe badge and a cash prize of $185.

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