Babe Zaharias

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Babe Didrikson Zaharias was a female athlete of America. She was famous for her remarkable performance in basketball and golf. She developed a fondness 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. 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. It was this time when she hit five home runs and earned the nick name ‘Babe’.

 

Mildred Ella Didrikson was the sixth of seven children born in the coastal oil city of Port Arthur in southeastern Texas. Her mother, Hannah, and her father, Ole, were immigrants from Norway. Although her three eldest siblings were born in Norway, Babe and her three other siblings were born in Port Arthur.

 

She later changed the spelling of her surname from Didriksen to Didrikson. She moved with her family to 850 Doucette in Beaumont, Texas, at age 4. Though best known for her athletic gifts, Didrikson had many talents and was a competitor in even the most domestic of occupations: sewing.

 

An excellent seamstress, she made many of the clothes she wore including her golfing outfits. She claimed to have won the sewing championship at the 1931 State Fair of Texas in Dallas, but in reality won the South Texas State Fair in Beaumont, embellishing the story many years later in 1953.

 

She attended Beaumont High School. Never a strong student, she was forced to repeat the eighth grade and was a year older than her classmates. She eventually dropped out without graduating after she moved to Dallas to play basketball.

 

Didrikson received a heroine’s welcome on her return to Texas. She had started another basketball season with the Golden Cyclones when the Amateur Athletic Union disqualified her from amateur competition because her name appeared in an automobile advertisement.

 

Her family was badly in need of money, and Didrikson turned professional to earn what she could from her status as a sports celebrity. Never hesitant to capitalize on her own abilities or to turn a profit from showmanship, she spent 1932-34 promoting and barnstorming.

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She did a brief stint in vaudeville playing the harmonica and running on a treadmill and pitched in some major league spring-training games; she also toured with a billiards exhibition, a men’s and women’s basketball team called Babe Didrikson’s All-Americans, and an otherwise all-male, bearded baseball road team called the House of David.

 

Since golf was one of the few sports that accommodated women athletes, Didrikson made up her mind to become a championship player, and between engagements she spent the spring and summer of 1933 in California taking lessons from Stan Kertes.

 

Her first tournament was the Fort Worth Women’s Invitational in November 1932; at her second, the Texas Women’s Amateur Championship the following April, she captured the title.

 

Complaints from more socially polished members of the Texas Women’s Golf Association led the United States Association to rule her ineligible to compete as an amateur, thus disqualifying her from virtually all tournament play.

 

Didrikson resumed the lucrative routine of exhibition tours and endorsements, impressing audiences with smashing drives that regularly exceeded 240 feet. She met George Zaharias, a well-known professional wrestler and sports promoter, when she qualified at the 1938 Los Angeles Open, a men’s Professional Golfers’ Association tournament.

 

They were married on December 23, 1938, and Zaharias thereafter managed his wife’s career. She regained her amateur standing in 1943 and went on to win seventeen consecutive tournaments, including the British Women’s Amateur Championship (she was the first American to win it), before turning professional in 1947.