March, 2012. Beaumont, Texas. Beaumont’s Good Sport

Posted on March 29, 2012

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Before the LPGA, WNBA, WTA and IWFL, etc., etc., there was BDZ.

Actually, BDZ founded the LPGA.

BDZ was, of course, Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

We visited a museum dedicated to her memory in her home town, Beaumont, Texas.

Starting as a high school basketball standout in 1930, Didrikson went on to master many sports, but ended her career best-known for her golfing achievements.

An exuberant tomboy whose life revolved around athletics, she gained recognition in just about every sport – basketball, track, golf, baseball, tennis, swimming, diving, boxing, volleyball, handball, bowling, billiards, skating and cycling.

After gaining Olympic glory as a triple medal winner in 1932, she displayed her talents in numerous sporting exhibitions, among them baseball.

She began pitching with barnstorming male teams, including the House of David in Benton Harbor, Michigan – where my husband’s father played against her.

She also played on an all-male traveling basketball team that on one occasion suited up against the Harlem Globetrotters.

As a teenager she knew her life’s ambition. “My goal was to be the greatest athlete who ever lived,” she said.

It was generally agreed she indeed WAS the greatest female athlete who ever lived until her death from cancer in 1956 at age 45 – or age 42, depending on the source of information.

The Associated Press voted her the Greatest Female Athlete of the first half of the 20th century.  The wire service also voted her Female Athlete of the Year six times – once for her track dominance and five times as a golfer.

She was a co-founder of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and won too many awards and honors to mention here.

She married wrestler George Zaharias, who was also her manager.  They had no children.

Mildren “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias  is buried in Beaumont.

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