Nick Name: Babe
Birthday: June 26, 1911
Died At Age: 45
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Born in: Port Arthur
Famous as: American athlete
Spouse/Ex-: George Zaharias (m. 1938–1956)
Died on: September 27, 1956
place of death: Galveston
Cause of Death: Cancer
U.S. State: Texas
awards: 1951 - World Golf Hall of Fame
1950 - LPGA Tour Money Winner
1951 - LPGA Tour Money Winner
1954 - LPGA Vare Trophy
1932 - Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1945 - Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1946 - Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1947 - Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1950 - Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1954 - Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1957 - Bob Jones Award
Who was Babe Didrikson Zaharias?
Babe Didrikson Zaharias was a female athlete of America. She was famous for her remarkable performance in basketball and golf. She developed a penchant for sports since her childhood days and she played various types of sports like tennis, volleyball and swimming. In her childhood, she used to play baseball with neighbourhood boys in Beaumont. It was this time when she hit five home runs and earned the nick name ‘Babe’. As an employee of Employers Casualty Company in Dallas, she led the team of Golden Cyclones during the AAU Basketball Championship in 1931. Her dream of participating in Olympics became successful when she won two gold medals and one silver medal at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. She left her mark as a skilled golf player who became successful in 82 golf tournaments. She was the founder of Ladies Professional Golf Association. Babe was voted as the Woman Athlete of the Half-Century by the Associated Press. For her spectacular performance in various fields of sports, Associated Press voted her Female Athlete of the Year for six times. This gifted athlete published her autobiography “This Life I’ve Led” in 1955. As the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, she was honoured with Bob Jones Award after her death.
Childhood & Early Life
Born as Mildred Ella Didrikson in Port Arthur, Texas, USA, Babe Didrikson Zaharias was the sixth of seven children of Ole Didrikson, a ship’s carpenter and cabinetmaker and Hannah Marie Olsen.
In 1915, her family shifted to Beaumont, Texas. There she used to play baseball with local boys. Due to her remarkable performance in hitting home runs, she earned her nick name ‘Babe’, named after Babe Ruth, a renowned American baseball player.
She studied at Beaumont High School. Due to her poor marks, she was forced to repeat the eighth grade. While attending this school, the school authority permitted her to play during her junior years.
Colonel Melvin J. McCombs, the manager of the athletic program at Employers Casualty Company in Dallas was much impressed after watching her performance.
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Without completing her studies, she shifted to Dallas to play basketball. She worked as a secretary of Employers Casualty Company in 1929 and played for this company till 1932.
This company used to sponsor the Golden Cyclones, a group of women athletes during 1930s. She led the Golden Cyclones during the Amateur Athletic Union Basketball championship in 1931.
She achieved an important position in this team that became successful in the national championship for three consecutive years. She also played for her company in the 1932 AAU Championship that witnessed one of her best performances.
During this tournament, she took part in eight events within 2 and a half hours. She achieved success in four events at that tournament. At that time she was contemplating taking part in the Olympics.
During the 1932 Olympics organized in Los Angeles, she bagged a gold medal for javelin throw. She also won another gold medal for her praiseworthy performance in the 80-meter hurdles.
But it was her bad luck that the judges disqualified her by referring her technique of high jump as illegal during the event of high jump. She therefore missed the opportunity of winning a gold medal. Instead, she received a silver medal.
After the Olympics, she participated in some exhibition basketball games to earn a livelihood. At that time, an automobile advertisement used her name for marketing its products.
She also tried her hand at billiards and long-distance swimming. She even went on a tour in the rural areas with a basketball team. Later, she went on a tour across the country with the male baseball team
She started playing golf in 1933. She won the Texas Women’s Amateur Championship in 1935. In 1945, she took part in three men’s PGA tournaments. She successfully played seventeen amateur golf tournaments.
She succeeded in the 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament. In the next year, she also won the 1947 British Ladies Amateur. Along with golfer Patty Berg, she founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1949.
The aim of this association was to encourage professional women golfers. Patty acted as its president for the first year.
She successfully won five golf tournaments which also included the United States Women’s Open in 1954. Later, she participated in Tam O’Shanter All- American golf tournament.
On December 23, 1938, she married George Zaharias who was a wrestler besides being a part time actor. After their marriage, George acted as his wife’s manager. They had no children.
In 1953, she was under medical treatment for colon cancer for which she even had to have surgery. After the surgery, she continued playing golf and won several tournaments.
Together with her husband, she set up the Babe Zaharias Fund that provides financial support to cancer patients. In 1955, her cancer resurfaced and she had to undergo another surgery. She breathed her last at the age of 45.
This celebrated athlete was a talented seamstress. Besides designing her golf outfits, she was the winner of South Texas State Fair in Beaumont for her expertise in sewing.