It’s a shame that so many of you will see this name, and not recognize perhaps the greatest female athlete of the 20th century. No one – male or female – has ever succeeded at such a high level in so many sports as Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
She played competitive baseball and softball. She was an All-American who led a team to the AAU basketball championship. She won Olympic medals in the javelin throw, hurdles, and high jump. She played competitive pool. She was outstanding in bowling, handball, diving, and tennis.
But it’s for golf, a sport she took up after her basketball career, for which she gained the most accolades. She won a total of 55 amateur and professional tournaments, including 13 amateur events in a row. And she was one of the founders of the LPGA in 1949. She drove the ball far and straight – “You’ve got to loosen your girdle and let it rip,” she said.
Babe was named Woman Athlete of the 20th Century by the Associated Press, and was number 10 on ESPN’s list of the top 50 athletes of the 20th century. Famed sportswriter Grantland Rice wrote this about Babe: “She is beyond all belief until you see her perform. Then you finally understand that you are looking at the most flawless section of muscle harmony, of complete mental and physical coordination, the world of sport has ever seen.”