B4 Muhammad Ali, B4 Michael Jordan, B4 Bo Jackson, there was Babe

Nearly 30 years before Mohammed Ali trashed Joe Frazier. 50 years before Bo Jackson played for the LA Raiders and the Kansas City Royals. Years before Michael Jordon played for the Chicago Bulls and the White Sox there was Babe Dickerson.

Named one of the greatest Athlete of the 20th Century. Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias kicked ass and named names, she is the only women in the 10.

Born in 1911, Babe’s first award was for sewing at the South Texas State Fair in 1931. The very next year she went metel, receving two gold metels and one silver at the Los Angeles Olympics. She was the first woman in the world to win the Javalin, she set the world’s record the 80 meter hurdles and broke the record in the high jump.

Two years later Babe won the Texas Women’s Amatuer Golf Tournment.

In the following years, she performed on the vaudeville circuit, travelled with teams like Babe Didrikson’s All-Americans basketball team and the bearded House of David (commune) team. Didrikson was also a competitive pocket billiards (pool) player, Two years later Babe won though not a champion.

As an amateur golfer, Babe won an amazing 13 consecutive tournaments during 1946. The next year, she was the first American to win the British Amateur. Among her 55 tournament victories were three U.S. Women’s Opens. With Zaharias, Patty Berg and Fred Corcoran, she founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1949.

For 10 years she dominated golf and played with the men in the LPGA.

The 5 foot 6 Didrikson played baseball,basketball, golf, ran track and made her own outfits, bad ass indeed.

Babe knew she was good and would tell the press, ” you know who is coming in second today?” Her yeah, I’m bad attitude, intimidated many of her opponets and infureated some members of the press who began to questioned her gender.

Babe was a competitor and cared little about her looks or dating. Babe performed at a time when female athletes were considered freakish at best, downright unacceptable at worst. For most of her life she was the antithesis of femininity; not until her later years did she dress and act less manly. “She was not a feminist, not a militant, not a strategist launching campaigns against sexual liberation,” wrote William Johnson and Nancy Williamson in Whatta-Gal!: The Babe Didrikson Story. “She was an athlete and her body was her most valuable possession.”

Some writers condemned her for not being feminine. “It would be much better if she and her ilk stayed at home, got themselves prettied up and waited for the phone to ring,” Joe Williams wrote in the New York World-Telegram. At the end of the day she was human and the barbs written about her hurt her, some believe the press’s, nasty comments made her stronger.

Babe Didrikson, married professional wrestler George Zaharias in 1938  Thereafter, she was largely known as Babe Didrikson Zaharias or Babe Zaharias.

April 1953, Babe learned she had cancer. Surgeons removed the tumor, but discovered the cancer had spread into her lymph nodes, which were inoperable.

Fourteen weeks later, she played in a tournament. By the next year she had completed an incredible golf comeback, winning her third U.S. Women’s Open – by an incredible 12 strokes – on the way to five titles and her sixth AP Female Athlete of the Year award.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias died in 1956.  Zaharias has a museum dedicated to her in Beaumont Texas is home to the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Park and Museum.     There are several books written about her, the latest is called (2011). Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. by Don Van Natta Jr.