Record of Achievement
Babe was declared by Bobby Jones to be one of the 10 best golfers of all
time, male or female.
record of Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias for athletic versatility
stands at the top for both men and women.
was voted the world’s greatest woman athlete of the first half of the 20th
Century in a poll conducted by the Associated Press. She was six
times named Woman Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, 1931,
1945, 1946, 1947, 1950, and 1954. No other
athlete in either division, man or woman, made this honor so many times.
a golfer, both amateur and professional, Babe knew no peer in her sex.
She won every major professional championship at least one time
and in the case of most of them, more than one time.
became the first American to capture the British Women’s Amateur and the
first performer to win both the United States Women’s Amateur and the
British Women’s Amateur.
was the first woman to win the Western open three times.
She won this event as an amateur and a professional.
knew little about golf and did not take up the game until after she had
gained world fame in track and field and All-American status in
basketball. She also had mastered tennis,
played organized baseball and softball and was an expert diver,
roller-skater and bowler.
she reached the heights in golf and is known as the player who
did more than any other to popularize women’s golf.
is a member of the Ladies Golf Hall of Fame and Helms Athletic
Foundations Golf Hall of Fame.
won 17 amateur tournaments in a row, including the British Amateur, the
U.S. Amateur and the All-American.
was a three-time All-American basketball player – 1930, 1931, and 1932.
In track and field, she either held or tied for the world record
in tour events and held the United States – AAU record in four events.
won two gold and one silver medal for the U.S. in the 1932 Olympics.
Establishing Olympic records in two events, and tying for the
record in the third. In one instance she
established the world record and in another she tied for the world
She was given the second place medal in the event in which she
tied – the high jump – in what has been recognized as a miscarriage of
justice. Later, Babe was credited with the
Olympic record (tie) as well as the world record.
Here is a resume of the height of her success
in each track and field event in which she excelled:
80 METER HURDLES – Won 1932 Olympics with an Olympic record time
of 11.7. A world mark which stood until the
next games in 1936. Won the AAU
sanctioned United States event in 1931 at 12 seconds, an AAU-United
States record which was not broken for 18 years.
JAVELIN – Won 1932 Olympics with a throw of 143 feet, 4 inches,
an Olympic mark which stood until the 1936 Games.
Won the AAU sanctioned United States championship in the event in 1930
with a throw of 133 feet, 6 inches, an AAU-U.S. record.
Beat her own record in 1932 at 139 feet, 3 inches.
Her original mark in this event was not broken for 25 years.
Babe’s marks in the javelin were considered world records before
HIGH JUMP – Tied for the 1932 Olympics title with an Olympic
record jump for 5 feet 5 inches with Jean Shiley.
Miss Shiley was given the gold medal and Miss Didrikson was accorded the
silver medal (actually it was half-gold and half-silver, the only such
medal in Olympics history) when officials ruled Babe out for using the
“Western Roll”. Later Babe was credited with
the Olympic first place tie. The International
Amateur Federation sanctioned Miss Didrikson’s jump as the world record,
which she held jointly with Miss Shiley for six years.
Prior to the Olympics, her jumping style had not been questioned.
The Olympic mark stood for 16 years.
Miss Didrikson tied for the AAU – sanctioned United States high jump
championship in 1932 with Miss Shiley with a jump of 5 feet, 3 inches.
The 1932 Olympic jump of Didrikson and Shiley stood as the best
effort in the United States for 23 years.
LONG JUMP – Won AAU-sanctioned United States championship in
1931 with a jump of 17 feet, 11 inches. Prior
to this, only Stella Walsh had jumped further.
Babe jumped 18 feet, 8 inches in the National AAU meet for an unofficial
world record, but in the same meet, Walsh bested her mark by a
BASEBALL THROW – Won AAU sanctioned United States championship
in 1930, 1931, and 1932. Her 1932 throw of 272
feet, 2 inches was the all-time record. This is
the only track and field record which still is held by Didrikson.
The baseball throw event existed 35 years, from 1923 through
1957, when the event was abandoned.
earning her place on the 1932 Olympic team, the 5 foot, 7 inch , 115
pound girl qualified for five events. She was
allowed to enter only three in the actual games.
weeks before the Olympics she had won the national women’s AAU and
Olympics tryouts single-handled, with 30 points, in what has been
declared to be the greatest single achievement in a series of events in
the history of athletics.
Illinois Women’s Athletic Club, with 22 contestants, finished second.
entered eight of the 10 events, or all except the 50 and 220 yard
field which included more than 200 athletes and teams which ranged from
15 to more than 20 members. Babe hurried from
one event to another in winning the shot put with 39 feet, 6 ¼ inches;
baseball throw (for the third year in a row) with 272 feet, 2 inches;
javelin with 139 feet, 3 inches, better than her own recognized world
record of 133 feet, 5 ½ inches established in
1930; 80 meter hurdles in 12.1, and high jump with 5 feet, 3 ½ inches
(tie with Jean Shiley). In the 80 meter hurdles
she won one heat 11.9, which was one-10th of a second better
than her previous accepted world record.
finished fourth in the discuss.
placed in seven events, winning five outright and tying for first in
another, for her 30 points. The second place
Illinois CA had 22 points.
1930, in the national AAU in Dallas, she won the javelin and baseball
throw. She broke the recognized world record in
the long jump at 18 feet, 8 ½ inches but finished second to Stella
Walsh, who then leaped ½ farther.
1931, in the national AAU in Jersey City, Babe was the leading scorer
with three firsts – long jump, baseball throw (world record at 296 feet)
and 80 meter hurdles (national AAU record of 12 seconds).
1932, she won the Texas AAU meet single-handed.
her career, Babe won 82 golf tournaments, including amateur and
professional. A pioneer of the
Ladies Professional Golf Association tour, playing in the days when
tournaments were few, she won 31 events before her tragic death in 1956.
Babe won the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open on the long and tough Salem Country
Club course at Peabody, Mass., she played the four round in 72, 71, 73,
and 75 – 291, and this was within three strokes per round of the best
that ever had been done by the men in either U.S. Open or the British
1946 and 1947, Babe won 17 amateur tournaments in a row.
won the United States Women’s Amateur (British Ladies Championship) in
1947, the first American to capture the British title which had been
begun in 1893.
would become one of two players, along with Louis Suggs, to win both the
United States Women’s Amateur and the United States Women’s Open.
won the Women’s Trans-Mississippi Amateur in 1946 and the women’s North
and South Amateur in 1947.
twice qualified for the Los Angeles (men’s) Open.
winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1945, she turned back the finest
women golfers of the era, including Louise Suggs, Maureen Orcott, Helen
Sigel, Dorothy Kirby and Peggy Kirk.
actual competition she beat Miss Kirk, Betty Jean Rucker, Miss Orcott (5
and 4), and Miss Sigel (3 and 2), and then smashed Clara Callender
Sherman 11 and 9 in the 36 hole title round, a record margin.
Babe shot an eagle on the seventh hole in the last round.
the British tournament in 1947, she was not taken past the 16th
green and beat Jean Donald, the Scotland champion, by 7 and 5, in the
semifinals. In the final, she defeated
Jacqueline Gordon 5 and 4, by knocking in an eagle on the 20th
was the leading money-winner on the Ladies Professional Golf Association
(LPGA) tour for four years in a row – 1948 through 1951.
She won the Vare Trophy in 1954 with a 75.48 average.
won the All-American Open, the World Championship and the United States
Women’s Open all in the same year - 1948.
Here are Babe’s 17 amateur victories in a row from
1946 to 1947:
Tans-Mississippi in Denver beat Poly
Riley in finals 6 and 5.
Broadmoor Invitational in Colorado
Springs, beat Dorothy Kielty 6 and 4.
All-American Championship at Tam
O’Shanter in Niles, Il., 310 (medal play).
U.S. (National) Women’s Amateur in
Tulsa, OK., beat Clara Callender Sherman 11 and 9 for the biggest
margin in the history of the tournament.
Texas Women’s Open, beat Betty Hicks 5
Tampa Women’s Open, won by five
Helen Lee Doherty Women’s Amateur in
Miami, FL., beat Margaret Gunther 12 and 10.
Qualified eight below women’s par with 68 and four under
men’s par. Babe was only one stroke off the
men’s record for the course.
Florida Mixed Two-Ball, Partnership
with Gerald Walker, won on 31st
Palm Beach women’s Amateur, beat Jean
Hopkins, 1 up.
Women’s International Four-Ball at Hollywood,
Fl., with Peggy Kirk beat Louis Suggs and Jean Hopkins in 18 hole
play off, 4 and 2.
South Atlantic Women’s Championships at
Ormaond Beach, beat Peggy Kirk 5 and 4.
Florida East Coast Women's
Championships at Ormand Beach, beat Peggy Kirk 5 and 4.
Women's Titleholder at Augusta, GA.,
overcame 10 stroke lead by Dorothy Kirby to win with 304, by five
North and South Women's Amateur at
Pinehurst, NC., beat Louise Suggs on second extra hole.
Celebrities in Washington.
Sheppard, Mrs. Val Reddan, Mrs. Cosmo Falconer,
Frances Stephens and the Scottish champion Jean Donald, all in that
Broadmore Match Play, beat Dat Kielty 10 and 9.
In 1951 she won the All-American Open, World
Championship, Ponte Verda Open, Tampa Open, Fresno Open, and Texas Open.
Babe set a record of 12 shots as the biggest
victory margin in the 1954 Women's Open at the Peabody Country Club in
Salem, Mass.. This record has been tied, but not broken.
Babe set this mark after having undergone one hernia operation (in 1951)
and the major colostomy operation for cancer in 1953.
In baseball, she was a pitcher on the House of
David team which was managed by Grover Cleveland Alexander. She
also played shortstop and third base.
In softball, she was on two teams which won
city championships in Dallas, Texas.
In 1952, Babe was operated on for a hernia.
The Babe Zaharias Open was started in her honor
in Beaumont, Texas in 1953. Babe won the first event and soon
thereafter, cancer struck. She underwent a serious operation
(involving colostomy) on April 17, 1953, in Beaumont, Texas.
Later that year, she competed in the
All-American at the Tam O'Shanter, in the midsummer heat in Chicago
Illinois, finishing third. Six months after her operation she won
the Servin Women's Invitational.
The next year, as stated, she won the U.S.
Women's Open and the Tam O'Shanter All-American.
In 1955 she won two tournaments but again was
hospitalized in Galveston and underwent an operation for a ruptured
Babe Zaharias died on September 27, 1956, at
the age of 45, and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Beaumont, Texas.
1976 - National Women's Hall of Fame.
- from "WHO in Sport's" by
W.R. "Bill" Schroeder and Thad S. Johnson