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Babe Didrikson Zaharias: Babe's Dramatic Life And Legacy

Posted by Ryan Wright on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 03:50 PM

The front pages of the 1930's often bore ominous, depressing headlines. The economic policies of Hoover and FDR dominated the public’s concerns at the time, as America redefined its identity in terms of how to create the most favorable conditions for prosperity. Many people found themselves either jobless or taking manual labor jobs, if not homeless altogether. Families had to move out of their homes and farms and go out West and elsewhere, in search for a better life. After the stock market crash of 1929 left so many with little money, most people had to find happiness in the simple things such as movies, board games, and parlor games. Dancing to the big bands and gathering around the radio to hear Yankee games and Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats, people looked for inspiration and hope wherever they could find it. Out-of-work Americans, with more time on their hands, used sports to help fill the long, empty hours.

babe didrikson at a golf tournamentA WORLD-CLASS GOLFER - THE CHARISMATIC MILDRED 'BABE' DIDRIKSON

Many memorable athletes provided such inspiration and motivation for the downtrodden in America, such as baseball player Joe DiMaggio, boxer Joe Louis, and golfer Bobby Jones. But one player in particular, an almost-forgotten athletic superstar, made a name for herself in the Olympic Trials in the 1930’s, and then went on to dominate nearly every sport in which she competed, concentrating on golf in the 1940’s and 1950’s. At a time when opportunities for women to play sports were few, and the contemporary attitude towards a strong, aggressive female athlete was essential rejecting, Mildred ‘Babe’ Didrikson provided inspiration for both women and athletes at a time when so many needed her courage.

babe didrickson hurdlesIN FIRST PLACE AGAIN: BABE DIDRIKSON DEMONSTRATES HER INTENSE COMPETITIVE SPIRIT IN THE 1932 OLYMPICS

Born June 26th, 1911 in Beaumont, Texas, she grew up playing childhood baseball, having tremendous natural talent, to which she later added rigorous practice and repetition, often late into the evening. As a child and teenager, she excelled in baseball, basketball, and sewing. Excelling first as a track and field athlete, she would later go on to win the South Texas State Fair sewing championship in Beaumont in 1931, and lead an amateur basketball team for a Dallas company to a championship that same year. A mere three years after she began practicing golf, with no prior training or experience playing the game, she became a professional golfer in 1935 at the young age of 24. Denied amateur status in the early 1930’s, she boldly competed in the 1938 Men’s Los Angeles Open, which put her on track to become America’s first female golf celebrity of the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Babe Didrikson throwing a javelinBABE DIDRIKSON EARNING ONE OF HER MULTIPLE MEDALS IN THE 1932 LOS ANGELES OLYMPICS

Her remarkable accomplishments, too many to list here, border on the athletic prowess of Jim Thorpe, Babe Ruth, and even Michael Jordan. A few of her feats are noteworthy here. Representing the Employer’s Casualty Insurance Company of Dallas in the 1932 AAU Championships, she competed in eight out of ten events as a one-woman team. She won five outright and tied for a sixth, setting five world records in the following events: the javelin throw, 80-meter hurdles, the high hump, and baseball throw, all in a single afternoon, no less. In golf, she ended up winning 17 straight women's amateur victories, a feat still not equaled by anyone. By 1950, she had won every golf title available. Totaling both her amateur and professional victories, Zaharias won a total of 82 golf tournaments. And last but not least, she became the fastest LPGA golfer to reach 10 wins. This she did in a mere one year and 20 days, a record that still stands as of 2012.

A stout and bold woman, she asserted her prowess on the field and never let anyone intimidate her. She broke the accepted models of femininity in her age, including those of female athleticism. Not only physically strong, she was socially straightforward about her strength. Although derided by her ‘manliness’ at the time, Babe Didrikson’s astonishing record was is just as much an inspiration today as it was back then.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias signed photo A RARE INSCRIBED PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGE OF BABE DIDRIKSON - THE GREATEST FEMALE ATHLETE IN HISTORY

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