It's the last day of February! I've decided to officially start this marathon in March, so consider this my warm-up!
For those of you who haven't heard of "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias , she has been said to be the greatest female athlete in the past 100 years; some even say of all time. But more importantly, she is my hero. If I would have known about her 15 years ago, I would have said I want to be her when I grow up.
Her real name was Mildred but her friends called her Babe. She was real handy with a slugger, and was living around the same time as Babe Ruth. Now, this isn't a research post, so if you want to know birth dates and death dates and facts like that, click on her name and read her biography. This is basically a gush post.
"But Samm," you may say, "why is she so awesome?" And that's something I am going to blog about.
If I listed everything she ever did, this would be a ridiculously long post SO, once again, click her link! Also, wikipedia.org is wiki-great!
She played professionally and won 13 tournaments in a row. Even though this was one of her last sports to pick up, while playing in the men's league, PGA (Professional Golf Association), she teamed up with George Zaharias, whom she later married.
I can't root and toot about her when it comes to golf because I'm not pro at golf, not much of a fan, so the only reason why this makes her awesome is because she was awesome at it.
She played in a men's league because there wasn't a women's league back then. She averaged about 20 points in a game. (wow!) She won an All-American status in this sport.
Track and Field
I'm sure in her beginning track stages, she could do every track and field event they had available. However, the ones that made her world-wide famous were the 80 meter hurdles, the javelin throw, and the high jump. She won Olympic gold medals in the first two events, and a silver in the high jump. Now here is where Samm goes off record a bit and speculates: According to corbisimages.com, "Babe was disqualified for what she is doing here--"diving." In those days, regulations specified that a high jumper's feet had to go over the bar first. The rule has since been rescinded. Babe had to settle for a silver medal. Under a special rule for women, Babe was permitted to enter only three events, and he would have won all three if it had not been for the "diving" incident" She was jumping against Jean Smiley. Both jumpers had beat the world record at the time of 5'5". I firmly believe, because I'm highly biased, that had they continued on, Babe would have won the gold medal in that as well. She has been on record of saying that she had "always jumped that way" and no one had ever told her it was wrong or corrected her on it. Note: These are no longer the rules in the high jump. She also broke countless word records in the other events she competed in. (eight out of the ten events).
Notice this one has no picture linked to it. She was the best punter on her football team (Yes, once again playing on a men's team) But she never saw one down because she was a woman. She played for SMU.
In this picture, she is pitching (middle pic). She was handy with a bat as well. She played with the all-men, bearded House of David team. Once again, not exactly a baseball guru, so I can't rave here either.
She grew up in Beaumont, TEXAS! She was an excellent seamstress and won at the South Texas State Fair with one of her dresses she made. She also made most of the clothes she wore. She typed about 80 words per minute. She was a singer and played the harmonica, and even had a record label. She also performed on the vaudeville circuit. Other sports she played were billiards, and although I haven't found any information on it, I'm sure she skated. Her mother Hannah was an accomplished skater in Norway. She was also an expert diver, and bowler, once bowling a 268. Last but not least, she also played tennis.
WHEW! Time for a breather, what a warm up! Enjoy some quotes from Babe that I thoroughly enjoy:
"I expect to play golf until I am 90--even longer if anybody figures out a way to swing a club from a rocking chair." (She died of colon cancer at 42)
"I was determined to play the game well or not at all."
"You can't win them all -- but you can try."
"That little ball won't move until you hit it, and there's nothing you can do for it after it has gone."
"It's not just enough to swing at the ball. You've got to loosen your girdle and really let the ball have it."
(Babe's when asked how she hits 250 yard drives.)
As Larry Schwartz noted in ESPN.com, when a reporter asked Zaharias if there was anything she didn't play, she answered dryly, "Yeah. Dolls."
And finally, my personal favorite:
"The Babe is here. Who's coming in second?"