Friday, June 25, 2010

Everything I Know I Learned from Babe Didrikson

This week marks the 99th birthday of Babe Didrikson Zaharias (June 26, 1911- September 27, 1956).

Babe was not only a superb athlete, she was also intensely competitive, with a fierce drive to win. Coming in second was never good enough for Babe. She had to be the best. And most of the time, she was. She is considered by many to be the greatest female athlete of the twentieth century.

She was also what my Dad used to call "a character." She had a wry humor and a plain, direct way of speaking and writing. That made her popular with the press in her day, although not everything she said was fit to print. (Once, when she played on the House of David baseball team alongside her bearded male teammates, she was asked where her whiskers were. I'll let you figure out the answer.)

I had a great time researching Babe's life for my 2000 biography. Babe was fun and funny, and I liked her even though I am certainly no athlete. Babe had passion, and that was enough for me. How can you not respect someone who practiced golf swings until her hands were bleeding and she "had tape all over her hands and blood all over the tape?" For anyone with a dream, Babe set the bar high.

Once Babe was asked how she managed to hit a ball so far. Her answer: "You've got to loosen your girdle and really let the ball have it."

Good advice for us all.

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