Nederland grad named to Texas track hall
Published 7:07 pm Monday, September 14, 2015
WYLIE — Local Olympic gold medalists Walter “Buddy” Davis and the late Babe Didrikson Zaharias are going into the Texas Track & Field Hall of Fame as members of its seventh induction class, the Texas Track & Field Coaches Association announced Monday.
They join a big-name class of athletes including nine-time Olympic champion Carl Lewis, 1956 Olympic decathlon winner Rafer Johnson, four-time gold winner Sanya Richards-Ross and three-time gold medalist Jeremy Wariner. Zaharias, who died at 45 in 1956, is one of nine who will be inducted posthumously.
The ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 8 at the Crowne Plaza-Addison.
According to the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Davis recovered from a bout with polio as a child and grew to 6 feet, 8 inches by the time he was a senior at Nederland High School. He won the district and regional high jumps his last two years, even passing up on the state meet to play for the Nederland baseball team that had just won district.
At Texas A&M, he won the Texas Relays twice, each time with a 6-foot-9 leap, was runner-up in the 1951 NCAA Championships with a 6-foot-6 ½ try and matched his 6-9 try to win the 1952 national title, according to the museum. He jumped an AAU-record 6-10 ½ that year before winning gold in the Helsinki Olympic Games at 6-8.32.
Davis’ museum biography has it that he was the tallest man at A&M at the time of his enrollment. He made two All-Southwest Conference and two All-District Six teams and was a third-team All-American by the Helms Athletic Foundation in 1951.
Zaharias, who was born in Port Arthur as Mildred Didrikson, was a basketball standout as a high schooler and later became known for her achievements in golf. But she first landed onto the worldwide stage in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and won gold in the javelin throw and the 80-meter hurdles. She settled for silver in the high jump.