Mildred “Babe” Ella Didrikson lived from 1911 to 1956. She earned nicknames such as “The Texas Babe,” “The Texas Tomboy,” “Belting Babe,” and “The Amazing Amazon.” Didrikson was lively and outgoing, and seemed to be naturally gifted at every sport she tried.
Babe Didrikson was born in Port Arthur, Texas. She was the 6th of 7 children. Her parents and three oldest siblings were born in Norway, and then moved to the United States, where the parent would have four more children, including Babe.
As a young girl in Beaumont, Texas, Didrikson earned the nickname “Babe” after the legendary baseball player, Babe Ruth. This was because Didrikson hit so many home runs in sandlot baseball as a girl. In high school, Didrikson went on to play every sport available to her. She played volleyball, baseball, tennis, golf, basketball, and she also swam.
Babe also became well known for diving, roller skating, and bowling. She became an All-American basketball player, and a world famous track and field star. She later went on to compete in billiards.
In the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Babe won two gold medals and one silver in track and field, setting four world records. She is still the only person, male or female, to have won medals for individual jumping, running, and throwing events in the Olympic games.
Babe was also an excellent seamstress. She sewed her own golf outfits, and won the sewing championship at the South Texas State Fair in Beaumont in 1931. In addition to her athletic and sewing talents, Babe was also a singer and played the harmonica. She recorded multiple songs for the label Mercury Records.
In 1938, already famous as Babe Didrikson, the athletic phenom married George Zaharias, a Greek American actor who she met while playing golf.
Babe was best known for her golfing prowess. She competed in the 1938 Los Angeles Open, and remained the only woman to ever compete against men in this tournament for almost 60 years. In Beaumont Texas, Babe won the Babe Zaharias Open, a golf tournament named after her and held in her own hometown. She won 82 golf tournaments over the course of her life, including amateur and professional tournaments. She won every golf title available, by 1950. She was the first American woman to be a golfing celebrity, and continued to win tournaments until colon cancer ended her career and eventually her life in the mid 1950s.
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