Mildred Ella Didriksen was called the female version of Jim Thorpe. Better known as Babe Didrikson, she was arguably the greatest female athlete who ever lived. The daughter of Norwegian immigrant parents, Babe grew up in Beaumont, Texas. Babe was born to play sports. As a young girl she stated her one goal was to be the greatest athlete ever. She did everything within her power to make her goal a reality. It did not seem to matter what the sport was, Babe would excel at it. Among the sports she mastered along the way were: basketball, baseball, tennis, football, fencing, tumbling, weightlifting, swimming, diving, boxing, volleyball, handball, bowling, skating, cycling, golf, billiards, competitive dancing, and more. And she strove to be the best at them all. She even won a sewing competition championship at the Texas state fair. When asked if there was anything she didn’t play she answered, “Yeah, dolls.” She claimed her nickname was given her by boys who marveled at her ability crush a baseball. Born into a time when girls were discouraged from, and even looked at disparagingly for, playing sports, Babe ignored her critics while pursuing athletic greatness with voracity. Babe was a jock and didn’t care who knew or what they thought about it. In basketball, she was a three time All-American and 1931 national AAU champion. In track and field, she won the 1932 national AAU track meet as a one woman team by competing in and winning multiple events while setting 5 world records. This qualified her for 5 events in the 1932 Olympic Games. However, the rules in place at the time limited her to taking part in only 3 events. She won gold medals in the 80 meter hurdles and the javelin throw and took silver in the high jump. She was named AP Athlete of the Year in 1931. Upon return from the Olympics, she toured with barnstorming basketball and baseball teams as well as in vaudeville. She took up golf in 1933 and preceded to pursue greatness in the game with unbridled passion. She met pro wrestling villain George Zaharias at the 1938 LA Open and 11 months later became Babe Didrikson Zaharias. As a professional golfer she was the fastest in the women’s game to achieve 10 wins (1 yr, 20 days), 20 wins (2 yrs, 4 mos.), and 30 wins (5 yrs, 22 days). In 1946-47, she won 17 of 18 tournaments including 13 consecutive in 1946. She captured both the 1946 Women’s U.S. Amateur and 1947 Women’s British Amateur during this streak. Babe was named the AP Athlete of the Year in ’45, ’46, ’47, ’50, and ’54 as well as previously mentioned in 1931. Babe won the Women’s U.S. Open in ’48, ’50, and ’54. She won the Women’s Western Open ’40, ’44, ’45, and ’50. In 1949, along with Patty Berg and Fred Corcoran, she founded the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). In 1950, she won the LPGA equivalent of the Grand Slam by capturing all 3 majors played that year. Babe captured 10 major titles, 41 career LPGA victories and 55 total career victories. She was the tour money leader in ’50 and ’51. She was also the first woman to qualify for and compete in PGA tour events. Babe’s confidence in her natural athletic ability, dedication to sport, determination to excel, and win at all costs attitude were said to have alienated some opponents and teammates alike. She was famous for saying, “Well, Babe’s here. Who’s coming in second?” She often said, “I don’t see the point of playing the game if you don’t win. Do you?” But that brashness and cocky attitude were what drew attention from the media and brought spectators to the fledgling LPGA’s events, helping it survive those early years. Much like Muhammad Ali would years later, Babe understood athletes were entertainers as well as competitors. So she used braggadocio to give her an edge over opponents and to bring out crowds. The crowds were always bigger when she was in the field. When asked how she hit the ball so far she said, “I just loosen up my girdle and give it a rip.” Babe was diagnosed to have cancer in April of 1953. Doctors said at the time she would never play golf again. Fifteen months after surgery and treatment, Babe had not only returned to the LPGA tour, but she won the 1954 Women’s U.S. Open by a dominating 12 stroke margin. In addition, she claimed the Vare Trophy that year for low scoring average. She also tackled raising money and awareness for cancer research and treatment with the same drive and determination to succeed as she did her sports career. Unfortunately, cancer was the one opponent that Babe couldn’t get past. Babe Didrikson Zaharias passed away in September of 1956 at the age of 45. She was laid to rest in her hometown at the Beaumont Forest Lawn Cemetery. Babe was the recipient of the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 1957 (posthumous). She was named the female Athlete of the Century by the AP and SI. In 1976, a museum was built in Beaumont off Interstate 10 as a tribute to Babe. It houses many of the awards, trophies, and other mementos from her lifetime in sports. It is open to the public every day but Christmas. Some argue that she may be the greatest athlete of all time period. But, at the very least, for all of the above, Babe Didrikson Zaharias is indeed the greatest female all around athlete of all time.