Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias (June 26, 1911 – September 27, 1956), was the first female American golf celebrity and leading player of the 1940s and early 1950s, succeeding in golf, basketball and track and field. She was named “Woman Athlete of the Half Century” in 1950.
Greatest Sporting Achievements
Didrikson qualified for the Olympics in 1932 and won five events, setting world records in the javelin throw with 143 feet and 4 inches, 80-meter hurdles, twice winning the high jump and baseball throw. She won two gold medals and one silver medal.
In 1935, she started playing golf and later became the most famous golfer. She won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1948, 1950 and 1954, the Western Open in 1940, 1944, 1945 and 1950 and was a Titleholder in 1947, 1950 and 1952 where she won a total of 10 medals during her professional status.
Why Was She So Good?
Babe Didrikson Zaharias became a famous professional athlete because of her marvelous ability to truly focus, her nearly infinite self-assurance and her persistence (for when she started taking golf seriously). She was physically strong and socially straightforward about her strength. She would take as many as 1,000 balls per day, would have lessons for five to six hours and occupy herself until her hands started blistering and bleeding.
What You May Not Know
- Zaharias earned the nickname “Babe” after hitting five homeruns in one of her childhood’s baseball game.
- In 1939, Time magazine described Zaharias as “a famed woman athlete, 1932 Olympic Games track and field star, expert basketball player, golfer, javelin thrower, hurdler, high jumper, swimmer, baseball pitcher, football halfback, billiardist, tumbler, boxer, wrestler, fencer, weight lifter, adagio dancer.”
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