Mildred Didrikson Zaharias


It was at the suggestion of legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice that Mildred Didrikson started playing golf in 1935, three years after her remarkable performance at the Los Angeles Olympic Games where she won two gold medals and a silver, breaking world records in the javelin throw and the 80-meter hurdles. Mildred, nicknamed Babe after Babe Ruth by playmates when she hit five home runs in one game. She won the 1935 River Crest International in Fort Worth. Subsequently, she was declared a professional due to her baseball and basketball earnings.

Married to professional wrestler George Zaharias in 1938, the Babe became American’s greatest women athlete, excelling in tennis, swimming, diving, roller-skating, bowling and softball. She turned pro for real in 1947 and in 1950 helped found the LPGA. She won 31 tournaments and is a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame. In 1953 the Babe was stricken with cancer and underwent surgery. She recovered enough by 1954 to win again.

The Babe, who died of cancer at age 42, was reared in Beaumont, where the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Museum is open daily to the public. An annual golf tournament and sports auction helps fund the museum.

Birthplace: Port Arthur, Texas

Born: June 26, 1914

Died: September 27, 1956