Babe wasn’t born “Babe.” Her given name was Mildred Ella and she quickly picked up her famous nickname in an interesting way. When she was a kid, Didrikson once hit five home runs in one baseball game. Everyone started calling her “Babe” after Babe Ruth and the name just stuck. Babe was just one of those people who was good at any sporting type of event she tried. As a kid, she played all kinds of sports around the Beaumont area, and was often the only girl competing in the sports.
Zaharias is probably best known for her achievements in track and field and golf. The Wallace team explains their interest in Babe like this: “Babe Didrikson Zaharias had one driving goal: to become the greatest athlete who ever lived. And she made good on that promise with a meteoric rise to famed basketball player, Olympic medalist, and top female golfer. But there was more to Babe than just sports.”
Babe Didrikson shattered both records and glass ceilings during her athletic career.
Babe started her professional athletic career on a high note as a decorated Olympic champ. In 1932, she won a gold medal and broke a world record in the 80-meter hurdles. She also won gold in the javelin throw with an Olympic record throw of 43.69 meters.
After returning home from the Olympics, Babe just couldn’t sit still. She took up golf and was a natural. In 1938, she was denied amateur golfing status but insisted she be allowed to play against the men in the Los Angeles Open, a men’s Professional Golfers’ Association tournament. No woman had ever done this before and she barely missed the cut. Babe went on to play professional golf tournaments across the country, winning many of them. She claimed to have won 17 tournaments in a row. Babe is ranked by ESPN as number 10 of the top North American athletes of the 20th century.
Although she passed away at the age of 45 after a battle with cancer, she accomplished an astonishing amount during her lifetime. Didrikson won 82 professional and amateur golf championships, leading ESPN and Sports Illustrated to later crown her the top woman athlete of the 20th century.”
In addition to the aforementioned, she also played basketball, baseball, and other sports. The Babe Zaharias Museum provides photos, medals, and other memorabilia from her sports career and charitable work.
Know Before You Go
The museum is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.