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The Babe Didrikson Zaharias collection is part of the larger Kathleen Bertrand and Linda Lundin, Honoring Women in Sports Collection. This collection contains two boxes of materials. Box one contains 21 photographs of Didrikson Zaharias and one newspaper advertisement. Box two contains an original baseball of the touring House of David Team from 1934, a barnstorming baseball team. The ball contains team member signatures, including a “Babe Didrikson” signature in bold letters.
Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) was one of the most accomplished women athletes of the twentieth century. She grew up in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas; her parents were immigrants from Norway. She excelled in baseball, golf, and track and field, but also took up basketball, tennis, swimming, diving, boxing, volleyball, handball, bowling, skating, cycling, and even billiards. This wide breadth of sports demonstrates her excellence as an overall athlete. She began her youth sports career playing baseball in Texas. As an adult, Didrikson pitched in Major League Baseball spring training and exhibition games, even pitching a no-hitter against a men’s team. In honor of Babe Ruth, she earned the nickname “Babe” due to her frequent home runs.
Didrikson was named Women Athlete of the Year six times by the Associated Press, along with World’s Greatest Woman Athlete of the First Half of the 20th Century. Sports Illustrated also awarded her the title Woman Athlete of the 20th Century. At the end of her career, she was earning $100,000 annually from tournament winnings and brand endorsements, equivalent of one million dollars today. In the 2020 Times Magazine “100 Women of the Year” series, Didrikson was on the cover representing the year 1932. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 2021.
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