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Babe Didrikson - Greatest Female Athlete of All Time
Like Jim Thorpe before her for men, Babe Didrikson (Zaharias) was the greatest all around female athlete of all time.
Although Jackie Joyner-Kersee was named Sports Illustrated Greatest Female Athlete of All Time with Babe coming in second, I would have to disagree for the same reason that the Associated Press named Jim Thorpe the Greatest Athlete of All Time; Jackie was just an outstanding track and field athlete. She tried professional basketball, but played in less than 20 games and her highest score in a game was four points.
On the other hand, the Babe excelled in track and field, golf, baseball, basketball, softball, diving, roller skating, pocket billards and bowling. She was named the 10th Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century by ESPN and 9th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century by the Associated Press. This included men and women.
In the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, Babe won Gold in the hurdles, Gold in the Javelin and Silver in High Jump. And, this wasn't even her best sport. She hit 5 homeruns in one game as a child. She earned All-American three times in basketball leading her team to the AAU Basketball Championship in 1931. However, her best sport was yet to come.
She would not take up golf until age 23, but this is where Babe would gain her notoriety. She was the first American to win both the U.S. Women's Amateur and the British Ladies Amateur. She is still the only woman to make the cut in a men's PGA event and she did so several times. She won 41 LPGA events and 10 Major Championships including the Grand Slam of women's majors in 1950. She won 17 straight amateur events which has never been equaled by man or woman.
Babe Didrikson was born on June 26, 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas. She met her husband, George Zaharias when they were teamed together at the Los Angeles Open, the men's PGA tournament. They were married the next year.
Battling colon cancer for the second time in 1955, she managed to win two more tournaments before the illness claimed her life in Galveston, Texas at age 45. The Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year 6 times and the Greatest Female Athlete of the First Half of the Century. Babe was in the very first LPGA Hall of Fame group of inductees.