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On This Date in Sports March 20, 1934: A Real Babe

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Babe Didrikson becomes the first woman to pitch in a professional baseball game when she takes the mound for the Philadelphia Athletics for one inning of a spring training exhibition against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Fredrik, Maryland. In her one inning, Didrikson walks just one batter and allows no hits. Babe Didrikson, a gold medalist in 1932, would later appear in games with the Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals.

Born Mildred Didrikson on June 26, 1911, in Port Arthur, Texas, she earned the nickname Babe after hitting five home runs in a baseball, after Babe Ruth. A top-notch athlete, Babe Didrikson achieved worldwide fame during the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Didrikson would claim three track medals, winning a Gold Medal in 80-meter hurdles and javelin throw while taking home a Silver Medal in the high jump.

After the Olympics, Babe Didrikson was the most celebrated female athlete in the world. Looking for new challenges, she toured the country playing basketball and baseball in 1933, which led to her spring training invites. Babe Didrikson was initially scheduled to appear in a game with the Cleveland Indians on March 18th, but the game was postponed by rain. After her inning with the A’s, Babe Didrikson appearing with the St. Louis Cardinals, got rocked by the St. Louis Cardinals in one inning of work, allowing three runs on four hits. Three days later, her appearance with the Indians was rescheduled. She pitched two scoreless innings against the minor league New Orleans Pelicans while collecting a single in two at-bats.

After her baseball experiment, Babe Didrikson began playing golf and became a true trailblazer, playing in several events against men. After marrying pro-wrestler George Zaharias, Babe Didrikson-Zaharias became the best female golfer in the world, winning ten major championships, as she helped found the LPGA.

In 1953, Babe Didrikson-Zaharias was diagnosed with colon cancer. Despite having surgery one month earlier and playing with a colostomy bag, Didrikson-Zaharias won the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open. Sadly, cancer was the foe she could not beat, as she died two years later at the age of 45. Years after her death, Babe Didrikson-Zaharias is still considered by many to be the greatest female athlete of all time.