The Question: Is Babe Didrikson the greatest all-round athlete of all time?

June 05, 1955

RICHARD M. NIXON, Whittier, Calif.
Vice-president of the United States
"It's a dead heat between Miss Didrikson and Jim Thorpe. Babe would be the last person to say she could beat Jim in his sports. But she is great in sports Jim didn't play. Golf is one. Babe is a superlative golfer. Ten months after a serious cancer operation, she won the Serbin Invitational."

CHARLES SPITZER, New York
Sales manager, Speidel Watch Bands
"Yes. Babe has great sportsmanship, humility and courage, the attributes of any all-round great. We think of her as a great golfer, but she excelled in every sport. She pitched in a game for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Red Sox. And she pitched for The House of David team."

JANE PICKENS, Atlanta, Ga.
Singer-actress
"No. Bob Mathias is the greatest. Sure, Babe is a great all-round athlete. But in what sport could she beat Bob? Furthermore, I'm sure if Bob made up his mind to beat her at golf, bowling, billiards or in any other sport at which she is a whiz, there's no doubt in my mind that he could beat her."

MAJ. GEN. ROBERTE PINSON, Touraine, France
Chief of French Army Engineers
"A woman the greatest athlete? You Americans are so droll. It is true that this Babe is 'some baby,' as you Americans say. But she could never beat Lacoste, the conqueror of Bill Tilden. And I saw Jim Thorpe in the Olympics when I was a boy. No one was as great as your Indian."

GEN. LUCIUS D. CLAY, New York City
Chairman of the Board, Continental Can Co.
"She is wonderful, an inspiration to all, but in my lifetime there was never anyone to compare with Jim Thorpe. No one could match his sheer power, speed and all-round athletic brilliance. Would anyone presume to assert that Miss Didrikson could best him in the majority of athletic events?"

RICHARD C. COWELL, Washington, D.C.
Founder, Amuranium Corp.
"Yes. In addition to her golf genius, Babe hit three home runs in one baseball game; scored 106 points in a basketball game; whacked a golf ball 400 yards; threw a baseball 296 feet in a Jersey City tournament; bowled 268 in one game; and she was an excellent marksman, cyclist and swimmer."

A. HOLLY PATTERSON, Nassau County, N.Y.
County executive
"No. Jim Thorpe is generally acclaimed as the greatest all-round athlete. He was part of my early life, the hero of the entire sports world. But Babe Didrikson is one of the greatest all-round athletes of all time, man or woman, because of her sportsmanship, courage and proficiency in every sport."

DEREK ROY, London, England
Comedian
"She certainly is. Babe has competed in England. She beat the pants off everyone there. In her prime I'm sure she'd beat every athlete in the British Empire Games, with the possible exception of Roger Bannister. But I'm no expert. This brown on my face is not an athletic tan. It's London rust."

GEN. HUGH (PAT) CASEY, USA, Ret.
MacArthur's Chief Engineer in the Pacific
"No. That honor belongs to Bob Mathias. In 1948, when he was 17, he won the Olympic Decathlon with more points than Jim Thorpe. He broke his own record in the 1952 Olympics. He'll be 26 in 1956 and can win again. Bob can defeat anyone in all-round sports events."

THE DUKE OF MONTELLANO
Madrid, Spain
"Yes. We know about Babe Didrikson in Spain. Many of us saw her in the 1932 Olympics, where she established new records. Too bad she did not take up bullfighting. It is more than a sport; it's an art. Had she done so, Babe would be a legend for Spanish speaking people 1,000 years from now."

WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST JR., New York City
President, Hearst Publishing Co.
"She is undoubtedly the greatest all-round woman athlete of all time. But many experts insist that Jim Thorpe is the greatest athlete who ever lived. Furthermore, we've had many four-letter men in our colleges. How can you get experts to agree that Babe is a greater athlete than these greats?"

ILLUSTRATION ELEVEN PHOTOS

NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION:

Should the United States go all out to build an Olympic team that can beat Russia in 1956?

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)