“They say it’s unladylike to play professional sports. But, they also say it is unladylike to bite the head off of bats. Which I do just about everyday.”
~Babe Didrikson Zaharias
While flipping through some old timey newspapers, a few of our interns stumbled across a photo of one of the more American looking people they had ever seen. In a track and field uniform, with a snarl and a javelin, we saw a square jaw and a stare that said, “If you fucking touch me, I will end you.” It haunts us to this very day.
“Who is that guy, and what did we do to piss him off?” we all thought aloud (which is more “speaking” then “thinking” when you think about it). And as we studied this picture, wondering if we had unleashed some sort of voodoo vengeance curse upon the office, AFFotD’s “pretend to be in advertising guy” Jon Hamm came through with a sudden revelation.
“Holy shit, you guys. That’s a chick. That chick looks like she’d kill any of us for looking at her the wrong way.”
John Hamm was right. We could see the distinctive femininity (boobs) that was masked by her dead-cold death glare. After some digging, we discovered that this was none other than Babe Didrikson, two-time gold medalist, Hall of Fame golfer, and 5 time AP Female Athlete of the year.
We here at America Fun Fact of the Day came to the realization that in our entire history, we have not done a fun fact about a member of the fairer sex. There is no rhyme or reason behind it, other than the fact that statistically there are more male Lion Hunters than female Lion Hunters, but American History is chalked full of Sexy Ladies doing Dangerous Feats of Awesome. So it was high time we at least gave proper respect to one of them, especially if it looked like her eyes were hate raping us from beyond the grave.
On your mark, get set…don’t even fucking try it
Babe Didrikson Zaharias, born Mildred Ella Didrikson, was born in 1911 with a curse hovering around her head. By naming her “Mildred” her parents had given her the least inspiring, most old-lady sounding name in the history of names. Deciding that something had to be done to change this, she earned the nickname of “Babe”, referring to Babe Ruth, after she hit five home runs in a childhood game of baseball during a time when women weren’t allowed to vote (probably). Extremely competitive, she started the annual “Best Babe Didrikson Award,” which she took home every year. She also won a competitive sewing competition and recorded several songs for Mercury Records (seriously). But her main claims to fame involve the fact that she could kick your ass in no matter what sport you played, and probably killed a couple of douchebaggy guys with her bare hands.
Babe (whose name would sound sort of ironically derogatory in the 1930s when used to describe a woman, except for the fact that anyone who ever called her “Babe” with a tone in their voice was promptly kicked in the balls by Didrikson, leading to a slew of infertility of men at sports events) made a name for herself by running really really well. Specifically, she won two Olympic gold medals and a silver medal in Hurdles, Javelin, and High Jump. But that was just her way to introduce herself to the world.
She was hired as a secretary at an Insurance Company solely to play on the company’s basketball team. Seriously. Standing 5 foot 5, this made her both the first female ringer in the history of interoffice sports, as well as the shortest. She led her office to the Amateur Athletic Union championship in 1931, before deciding that she was bored having four people on her team to occasionally do some of the work, so she said, “fuck it” and won the AAU Championships in Track and Field, despite being the only member on her team, while setting five world records in the process (that sounds hyperbolic, doesn’t it? It’s not).
She then began spending her time doing vaudeville acts, playing billiards, and occasionally honing her blossoming flight abilities. She married a professional wrestler. Her husband, Theodore Zaharias, was known as “The Greek Hyena” and “The Crying Greek From Cripple Creek,” proving that in the 1930’s wrestlers got to have much cooler names than they do now. Many believe that the primary reason that Didrikson married a wrestler was that he was one of the few people she had encountered who could have sex with her without having his spine snap in half mid-coitus.
Babe picked up golf relatively late in her athletic career, nonchalantly declaring that she wanted to be the best at a sport in a week that most people practice at their entire lives. Picking up clubs for the first time in 1935, it took her less than three years to qualify for the Los Angeles Open, a mens tournament. It would be 60 years until another woman even attempted such a feat. She is the only woman to make a cut at a PGA men’s event. She also is the only woman golfer to have successfully shot down a Nazi warplane with a drive from the tee, this occurring during a tournament in Scotland during Germany’s Blitz of London, which Babe was the only competitor. When a newspaper reporter asked her if she was concerned about playing in a war zone, she replied, “fuck Nazis.”
Also, whenever she hit a golf ball, her signature would appear, mid-air, above her club.
ESPN lists her as the 10th best athlete of the 20th century, behind Michael Jordon, Babe Ruth, and Muhammad Ali, but ahead of Wilt Chamberlain, Ted Williams, and Ty Cobb (yeah, suck on that, Ty Cobb).
Having said all that, America Fun Fact of the Day has decided to burn the pictures shown in this email, if only for fear that exposing her supernatural talents might in some way lead to her hunting us down and picking us off, one by one, like some sort of Title IX version of Final Destination. Because the last thing we want to do here is make enemies. Especially enemies as powerful as Babe Didrikson.
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