Story of the Week
It’s been mentioned to me by at least 2,000 ladies who read my column, ladies who are avid sports fans, that I’ve never written an article about a female sports star. Well, maybe not 2,000 ladies; it’s more like 1,000. Alright, so it wasn’t exactly 1,000; let’s say it was 500. OK, so I lied; one female reader of my column requested that I do a story about a female sports personality. I thought about that, and I chose someone I greatly admire to be the subject of this week’s article.
The feature story this week is about a legend, Mildred Didrikson. She once hit five home runs in a baseball game, and was nicknamed Babe, as in Babe Ruth. She acquired the name Zaharias when she married pro wrestler George Zaharias; more about that later.
Babe Didrikson was a remarkable athlete. She began as an All-America basketball player in college, then won two track and field gold medals at the Olympics in 1932 in Los Angeles. Next she turned professional, and began touring the United States, exhibiting her prowess in track, swimming, tennis, baseball, and even billiards.
Didrikson began concentrating on golf in 1935 at the suggestion of the noted sportswriter, Grantland Rice. She was 21 at the time. She played her first golf tournament a year later, and, like everything else she attempted, she excelled at it.
When she won the Texas Women’s Amateur Golf Championship, the United States Golf Association ruled that, as a professional athlete, Babe could no longer compete in amateur golf events.
During a celebrity pro-am tournament in 1938, she met George, her future husband; they married later that year. With Zaharias supporting his wife and managing her career, the Babe applied for amateur reinstatement. The USGA granted her wish in 1943. She proceeded to win 17 consecutive amateur tournaments. She then determined that professional golf is all she wanted to pursue.
As a pro, she was just as dominant, winning 31 events from 1948-1953. The Babe’s last seven wins, including the Women’s Open in 1954, came after she was diagnosed with cancer. Although she won twice in 1955, it wasn’t long before she was gone. She passed away in 1956 at the age of 42.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias is credited with having changed the game of golf for all women who followed her. She was voted the "Woman Athlete of the First Half of the 20th. Century" in a poll conducted by the Associated Press. In all probability, she is the greatest female athlete of all time.
Last Week’s Trivia
What did Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi have in common before they became NFL head coaches? They were teammates on the New York Giants. They were assistant coaches; Landry coached the defense, and Lombardi coached the offense. Head coach Jim Lee Howell knew how to pick ‘em.
Trivia Question of the Week
When was the first baseball game televised live nationwide? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.