Babe Didrikson: A Thorpe-level GOAT since 1932

First mention of Babe as a GOATAs near as Truly The GOATs can surmise, the first mention of Babe Didrikson Zaharias as an All-Time Great athlete came after her utter domination at the 1932 AAU Trac & Field Championships, then essentially the Olympic qualifiers for Team USA but before she’d win three medals at the Los Angeles Games that summer.

“She’s the greatest all-around athlete in history,” proclaimed Col. M.J. Combs to media in July ’32. As he who fostered Babe’s basketball and track & field careers, Colonel Combs was indeed “probably a bit prejudiced” as Austin Statesman Sports Editor Homer Olsen admitted in his “Sports Situation” column, but Babe ultimately proved Combs correct in the short-term, putting in a Thorpe-like show in winning the maximum three events to which women were allowed to participate in those days.

Runs the relevant bit of column:

In connection with the girl from Dallas, interesque stories still were being written today while she and her femme teammates were on their way to California and the fast-approaching Olympics. The stories, which are gracing many of the country’s leading sport pages, tell of this Dallas maid as being a girl who had never worn the spiked shoe of track and field until two years ago.

Only 19 now, she was “found” in Houston by one Col. M.J. McCombs in 1930 while she was playing on a basketball team. Col. McCombs, being a former track star of the University of Missouri, watched the Babe closely and was so impressed by her work that he spoke with her earnestly. After hearing from McCombs that she had great possibilities both in basketball and track, Miss Didrikson went to Dallas where she obtained a position with the firm which also employed McCombs, the Employers’ Casualty company.

Under the colors of the Cyclones, she helped no little bit in bringing two national basketball titles to Texas, and at the same time won places for herself on the mythical All-American basketball teams.

Now she’s won the track and field title of the AAU for the Cyclones, and indications are that she will win other laurels for herself and the USA in the games at Los Angeles.

McCombs, in speaking of the Dallas girl, says “She’s the greatest all-round athlete in history. I don’t know of a man to compare with her. Jim Thorpe was great but he couldn’t do so many things as well as Babe can.” All of which may be very well, and the Babe might succeed, even easily, in grabbing first honors In the 80-meter hurdles, the javelin throw and the high jump in the great games, but McCombs probably Is a bit prejudiced. Not that I’d blame him though.

As for the Babe herself, she’s quite confident that the Olympics will be just another walk-off for her. “It’s how you feel on the day you’re in action,” says Miss Didrikson. “Records don’t mean anything; if you’re right, you’re right.” And she figures she’ll be right when she moves onto the field in the company of the world’s greatest. Of which she is one, surely.

A completely fictional story about Jim Thorpe that thankfully disappeared

In researching 20th-century newspaper reportage for the stories of the great all-time athletes (thus far Jim Thorpe, Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Angelo Mosca), it is becoming pointedly obvious that much sports journalism was not subject to, likesay, very rigorous editorial scrutiny.

As an example, check out the below story published in the Evening Star newspaper of Washington, D.C.,  following Thorpe’s incredible success at the 1912 Olympic Games.

Continue reading “A completely fictional story about Jim Thorpe that thankfully disappeared”

Larry Bird’s comments at Dream Team HOF enshrinement clinched him GOAT trash-talker title

The entire premise of Truly the GOATs is about challenging the notion of labeling sports’ players, teams or events hastily and clichédly “Greatest of All-Time.” My theory – still doing research on this – is that the tendency began with Michael Jordan and/or the 1992 U.S. Olympic basketball team, a.k.a. The Dream Team.

One can easily see why: Not since the days of Pelé and his Team Brazil football sides of the 1950s and 60s had the wide world of sports so clearly witnessed once-in-a-century greatness. Team USA ultimately lived up to the pre-Olympics hype by winning every game – by an average score of 43.8. Even Brazil drew a couple of matches in their three World Cup-winning runs.

The Dream Team was so great that they even enjoyed one of the best Hall of Fame enshrinement speeches 20 years after the 1992 Olympics Games, courtesy Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Bird, in fact, solidifies his bid for the Greatest Trash-Talker of All-Time by closing out the speech with the last word on the ridiculous 1960 Team USA vs 1992 Team USA debates leading into both squads’ indubction in Springfield. Check it out: Even Jordan can’t maintain his cooler-than-thou demeanor when Larry starts dropping bombers like he was killing the Lakers with jumpers.

The complete transcript of the speech runs below the video.

1992 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech: Complete transcript
Emcee Ahmad Rashad: Welcoming the team to the Hell of Fame are three members of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, Walt Bellamy, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West. Ladies and gentlemen, the gold medal winning 1992 U.S. Olympic Dream Team! Continue reading “Larry Bird’s comments at Dream Team HOF enshrinement clinched him GOAT trash-talker title”

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