The Most Influential
People in History
Mildred Babe Didrikson
(born Mildred Ella Didriksen)
1914 – 1956
American Athlete; 5’ 5”, 110 pounds
Sports Ranking 11th of 12
1981 U.S. stamp.
Babe Didrikson is probably the greatest female athlete in history and a role model for the women that followed. She also improved the status of women in sports forever. After hitting five home runs during a school baseball game, her classmates started calling her "Babe," after Babe Ruth. From 1930-31 she was a member of the women's All-America basketball team. From 1930-32 she won 8 national track and field championships which included four world records in 1932. In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics the "Babe" won the 80-meter hurdles (11.7 seconds), and the javelin throw with a new world record of 143 feet, 4 inches. She also broke the world record for the high jump but her jump was ruled illegal because her head went over the bar before the rest of her body. (This is known as the "Western Roll" and is now acceptable in high-jump competition). She nonetheless garnered a silver in the high jump, being deprived of a 3rd gold.
One of the greatest women golfers, she revolutionized the game by making it possible to earn a living as a woman golfer. She is #4 with 10 major titles, (Patty Berg is #1 with 16 major titles) and 31 LPGA Tour wins overall, (Mickey Wright is #1 with 82 LPGA Tour wins). In 1946 and 1947, in one amazing stretch, she won 17 consecutive tournaments out of the 18 tournaments in which she played. The record for men is 11 by Byron Nelson from March to August 1945.
Didrikson was one of the 13 Founding Members (1950) of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) that worked to persuade companies to sponsor more tournaments for woman and offer more prize money.
Key Reference: Autobiography - This Life I've Led, 1955.