Ben Johnson Memorial Award
Born in 1924 at Roswell, New Mexico, James Barry “Tater” Decker grew up on the huge Diamond A Ranch, where his father was foreman. Decker’s childhood idol was champion cowboy Bob Crosby, who lived in Roswell. When Decker started rodeoing in the early 1940s, Crosby became one of his traveling companions.
Wearing his trademark red shirt, Decker entered all events, but he quit riding bulls “fairly early–I rode them fairly decent, but I had heck getting off. I always lit on the back of my head.” In saddle bronc riding, his favorite event, he won the title at Madison Square Garden in 1947 and came in second in the bareback competition. He was all-around champion three times at Colorado Springs, twice at Nampa, Idaho, twice at El Paso, and many times at other venues. After 1959 Decker competed primarily in bulldogging.
Retiring from full-time competition in 1968, Tater Decker still performed with the Senior Pro Rodeo. He owns and operates a ranch near Clayton, New Mexico.