Monday, June 27

A real Babe

A very kind friend passed the story of Babe Didrikson along to me, so I feel it's my responsibility to pay it forward.

Babe was a human dynamo of female athletic ability at a time when the most exercise a woman got was dancing The Charleston or washing her family's clothes.

With Babe Didrikson's story, I was hooked by the second paragraph. (The audio is pretty good, too.)
In the 1920s and 30s, Babe Didrikson proved a girl could be a phenomenal all-around athlete. After mastering basketball and track and field, she eventually turned to golf — and won three U.S. Women's Open championships before she died of cancer when she was only 45....

Even though Babe wasn't concerned with the gender and class issues of the time, she soon learned that women were not supposed to play sports, and she would have to get a job with a business to play professionally for their team.

So Babe left high school to work...

She single-handedly won five track and field events (broad jump, baseball throw, shot put, javelin, and 80-meter hurdles) within three hours and qualified for three Olympic events: the 80-meter hurdles, high jump, and javelin.

But yet she still was taunted in the press for being too "manly." Some implied that she was an athlete because she couldn't "get a man." (As if!)

(We runners today are a lucky bunch that our sport has changed so much in the past 100 years.)

Now this is my kind of athlete story! How is it that I had never heard of this woman before today? We all know about Babe Ruth from the same era. Why not Babe Didrikson? She has all the makings of a superstar: Superior talent. Overcoming discrimination. And, sadly, a tragic early death. But yet I'd be surprised if anyone knew about her before the new book Wonder Girl hit the bookstores (and ensuing book tour blitz began).

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