American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

Athletic Pioneer


"My goal was to be the greatest athlete that ever lived."


Mildred Didrickson was called "Baby" by her parents. Soon her nickname was altered to "Babe" because of her ability to hit like Babe Ruth. She was a relentless self-promoter who was thrilled by the "unladylike" world of sports.

Babe excelled in all sports, especially basketball and track, and by 1932 was chosen "the world's greatest girl athlete" by Famous Athletes of Today magazine. After winning three medals (two gold, one silver) at the 1932 Olympics, she became a professional golfer and won 83 competitions. In 1938, she married professional wrestler George Zaharias.

Babe helped found the Ladies Professional Golf Association and was chosen female "Athlete of the Half Century" in 1950. A six-time Associated Press "Female Athlete of the Year," Babe was dubbed "the athletic phenomenon of all time, man or woman" by sports writer Grantland Rice.

Tragically, Babe's reign was cut short by cancer. Before her death, she and George established a fund to help others suffering from the disease.

Historic Artifacts:

POSTER showing Babe Zaharias' athletic prowess
LIST of ACHIEVEMENTS of Babe Zaharias
TROPHY presented to Babe Zaharias from Sports Illustrated, "Female Athlete of the Century"
-- On loan from the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Memorial. Beaumont TX

Return to "11 Unforgettable American Women" page

"red arrow" Continue the virtual tour of the entire exhibit or choose a time period from the exhibit:
  arrow From Colony to Country, 1600-1800 arrow From Jazz to War, 1920-1950
  arrow From Growth to Civil War, 1800-1870 arrow From Fifties to Feminism, 1950-1990
  arrow From Prairie to Polls, 1870-1920 arrow Into the 21st Century, 1990 onward
"red arrow" View an alphabetical list of all 106 women included in American Women! with links to photos and biographies for selected women
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