In 1950 the Associated Press called Babe Didrikson Zaharias the century’s greatest woman athlete.
Originally named Mildred, she earned the nickname “Babe” through a comparison to the great baseball star Babe Ruth. Zaharias was outstanding not just in baseball, but also in basketball, track and field, and golf.
At the 1932 Olympics she won two gold medals and a silver in track and field events. Zaharias later helped start the Ladies Professional Golf Association and was the top money winner in women’s golf for three straight years (1949-51).
In 1931, at age 17, minor league player Jackie Mitchell pitched in an exhibition game against the New York Yankees.
First, she struck out Babe Ruth; then, Lou Gehrig. Soon afterward, she was told that baseball was “too strenuous” for women and lost her minor league contract.