Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Biography


Female Athlete of the 20th Century

Courtesy of the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Foundation

Today many athletes focus on only one sport 12 months out of the year. Youngsters hope to become good enough in that sport to play in college and beyond. That's not the way Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias did it. She was a woman for all seasons.

Though she is known mostly for her exploits in golf, Babe played many sports. She was good at tennis and played organized baseball and softball. She was an expert diver, roller skater, and bowler. In college she was a three-time All-American basketball player in 1930, 1931, and 1932.

In the 1932 Olympic Games, Babe won three medals in track and field. She won the gold medal for the javelin throw, the gold for the 80-meter hurdles, and the silver for the high jump. In other competitions Babe took medals and set records in the long jump, the shot put, and the baseball throw.

Only after her Olympic victories was Babe introduced to golf. She quickly made it her game. In fact, she changed women's golf by bringing power and smash to the game. She won the US Women's Open three times, the Women's Western Open four times, and the British Open '82 tournaments in all, both amateur and professional.

Babe was truly a pioneer in her field. She helped found the Ladies Professional Golf Association, which even today enables many women to enjoy careers in golf. In honor of her leading the way for other women golfers, the Babe Zaharias Open was set up in her hometown of Beaumont, Texas. Also in Beaumont you can learn more about this great athlete in the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum.

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  • Randy Allen
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