Friday, October 06, 2006

Remembering the Babe, and Other Stuff

babe didrikson zahariasIn 1939, Time magazine described Babe Didrikson Zaharias, a Port Arthur native who grew up in Beaumont, as a "famed woman athlete, 1932 Olympic Games track & field star, expert basketball player, golfer, javelin thrower, hurdler, high jumper, swimmer, baseball pitcher, football halfback, billiardist, tumbler, boxer, wrestler, fencer, weight lifter, adagio dancer..."

Whew! The occasion was her marriage to George Zaharias, a professional wrestler. And that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite lines about marriage. George Zaharias, at the time of his wedding to Babe, was a very fit, muscular man, handsome and buff. By about 15 years later, he'd ballooned in both weight and laziness.

The Babe said of him then: "When I married him, he was a Greek god. Now, he's just a goddamned Greek."

The quote above - the first one, describing the Babe's athletic exploits - is taken from a Guardian article remembering the great Didrikson Zaharias.

The Babe - whose team once won the Amateur Athletic Union track and field national team title even though she was the only person on the team - was being celebrated in a London newspaper because it was the 50th anniversary of her death in 1956.

I find it kind of sad that I didn't see any celebrations of Didrikson in Texas newspapers around the time of that anniversary. She was arguably the greatest female athlete of all-time, and definitely one of the greats in the history of women's golf.

The guardian article is a terrific read. Check it out.


• The American Junior Golf Association's HP Scholastic Junior All-America team was recently announced, and it includes one golfer representing Texas. Michael Whitehead of Sugar Land is on the boys' team.

Whitehead will get to attend the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet Nov. 19 at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga. To be eligible for the HP Scholastic Junior All-America Team, boys must have placed in the top 10 of an AJGA event. The selections are then based on grade-point average, class rank, SAT/ACT scores, leadership skills, community service and writing ability. Candidates were required to submit an essay no longer than 400 words that creatively focused on the game of golf.

• The UT Golf Club in the Steiner Ranch area of Austin announced it has sold two-thirds of its memberships and is entering "Phase II." That means they're ready to start building the real clubhouse. The clubhouse will be 16,000 square feet and include indoor/outdoor dining facilities, private dining rooms, 19th Hole/Bar, Golf Shop, Men's and Women's Locker Rooms and the UT Walk of Fame.

Once the new clubhouse is finished, the facility the club is currently using as its clubhouse will be converted to a fitness center. More info on the club is available at

Here's an article in the Victoria Advocate on Ben Johnson. Johnson was the boys golf coach at Victoria High for 20 years. When Victoria High and Victoria Stroman High were consolidated in 2001, Johnson took over the Victoria ISD boys program. During his tenure, Johnson's teams won 13 district titles, reached the regional tournament 20 times, and the state tournament twice.

Johnson is retiring from coaching to focus full time on his other job as Spanish teacher.

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