Born: June 26, 1911, in Port Arthur, Texas
Died: September 27, 1956
Nickname: Babe, of course. Her given name was Mildred. "Babe" was bestowed upon her as a young girl because she was such a good baseball player.
U.S. Women's Open: 1948, 1950, 1954
Western Open: 1940, 1944, 1945, 1950
Titleholders: 1947, 1950, 1952
Amateur - 3
U.S. Women's Amateur: 1946, 1947
British Women's Amateur: 1947
Awards and Honors:
LPGA Tour money leader, 1950, 1951
Vare Trophy (low scoring average), 1954
Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year, 1931, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950, 1954
Recipient, USGA Bob Jones Award, 1957 (posthumous)
Named Female Athlete of the Century by Associated Press and Sports Illustrated
Babe Zaharias, on her power: "I just loosen my girdle and let the ball have it."
Patty Berg: "When I come in second to her I feel as though I have won. It's kind of like the Yankees. They're the champs and you want them to win."
Babe Zaharias: "The Babe is here. Who's coming in second?"
She was portrayed by actress Susan Clark in the 1975 made-for-TV movie "Babe."
She was the first American to win the British Ladies Amateur Championship.
Zaharias won the LPGA "grand slam," claiming all three majors played in 1950.
Holds the LPGA records for fastest to 10 wins (1 year, 20 days), fastest to 20 wins (2 years, 4 months), and fastest to 30 wins (5 years, 22 days).
Zaharias had previously played in the Los Angeles Open in 1938, shooting 81-84 and missing the cut.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias Biography:
Later, a newspaper reporter wrote that Zaharias "operates like a woman whose life is a constant campaign to astound people."
The Babe grew up in Texas, the daughter of immigrant Norwegians. She was nicknamed after Babe Ruth because of her baseball talents (she later barnstormed with the famed House of David team).
In track and field, Zaharias set five world records in one day at an AAU meet in 1932. At that meet, her team won the national team title ... and Babe was the only member of the team!
At the 1932 Olympics, Babe won gold medals in the 80-meter hurdles and javelin, and silver in the high jump.
She didn't even take up golf until she was in her 20s, then won the first tournament she entered, the 1935 Texas Women's Invitational. And she worked hard at her game, hitting as many as 1,000 balls a day.
All the work paid off. She won, and won a lot, including her first major at the 1940 Western Open. She won 17 of the 18 tournaments she entered in 1946-47, including the U.S. Women's Amateur in '46 and British Ladies Amateur in '47.
Babe won on the Women's Professional Golf Association tour, too, the predecessor to the LPGA, of which she was a cofounder.
Zaharias was, by far, the biggest star of the young LPGA. At tournaments, she was a showman and a showboat. Her on-course banter with fans was often off-color, sometimes crude, but always entertaining. She gave the people what they wanted, and they came out to see her. Babe's star power has often been credited with keeping the fledgling tour alive, and behind the scenes she worked tirelessly to line up sponsors - sometimes cold-calling companies and haranging their CEOs until they agreed to sponsor an event.
Babe was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1953 and underwent surgery. She returned to win the 1954 U.S. Women's Open by 12 strokes, plus the Vare Trophy. But the cancer came back in 1955. She won the last tournament she played, the 1955 Peach Blossom Open, then was too ill to continue.
In December of 1955, barely able to walk, Zaharias had a friend drive her to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. She knelt down and touched the grass one last time.
She died months later at age 45.