BOB WEST ON GOLF — Babe Zaharias Museum somewhat in jeopardy

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Fifty-one weeks after the legend of Babe Zaharias became even more meaningful with the presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House by Donald Trump, there is concern that the building housing much of Zaharias’ illustrious history could be in jeopardy.

Rumblings that the city of Beaumont might no longer be willing to underwrite the costs of keeping the Babe Zaharias Museum open have the Zaharias Foundation playing defense but looking to go on the offensive. This comes at a time when the foundation is still regrouping from the June 20 death of long-time president W.L. Pate Jr.

Pate was a formidable force atop the Zaharias Foundation, promoted The Babe relentlessly and would likely have handled any potential threat to close or move the museum from its location at 1750 Interstate 10. His style, however, was keeping plans close to the vest. That has left the Zaharias Foundation in full scramble mode.

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The thought of the museum closing is the worst nightmare for anyone who cares about the Babe, cherishes her monumental reputation as the “World’s Greatest Female Athlete” and appreciates the treasure trove and splendor of trophies, medals and videos on display in the museum.

Sadly, it has never attracted visitors at the rate something on that scale should have. Lack of attendance and how to bring in more eyeballs is a subject that’s long been debated, albeit with little success. Consequently, some are questioning why the city should pay for upkeep and an employee who works 9 to 5 six days a week.

The obvious answer is there is only one Babe Zaharias, she has for nearly 100 years been one of Beaumont’s greatest assets and, as was the case with the Presidential Medal of Freedom presentation on Jan. 7, she continues to create a bigger-than-life awareness.

Netflix and Apple+ reportedly are taking a close look at a limited-edition series or movie on her, based on Don Van Natta’s book “Wonder Girl.” What an embarrassment if an agreement is reached and there is no museum.

Chances are that’s not going to happen. Regina Rogers, for one, just won’t let it. One of the all-time great philanthropists and humanitarians in Southeast Texas, Rogers’ ties to the museum go all the way back to her father, Ben Rogers, being one of the founders back in the late 1960s.

Regina tends to stay in the background with the foundation but is now advocating a public relations and advertising campaign to trumpet the museum. With board approval, which should not be a problem, the project will likely be untaken by Paula Booth of Four Alarm Productions in Beaumont.

The proposal is expected to involve using regular media, brochures, billboards and social media to get the Zaharias-museum message out. An intriguing part of the plan is to use student athletes from Lamar to come to the museum at regularly scheduled times and meet with school children on field trips to further celebrate the Zaharias story.

That should be a no brainer where Lamar is concerned. The Zaharias Foundation has underwritten eight endowed scholarships for female athletes at LU. Officials at the university should be beating on the doors, asking what they can do to help keep the museum open and to spread the word about what a phenomenal female force The Babe was.

CHIP SHOTS: In the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias, the team of Cap Hollier, Joe Gongora, Butch Cross and Darrell Mouille won the front with minus 2. The back ended in a tie between the foursome of Eddie Delk, Bob Byerly, Keith Marshall and James Trahan and the team of Bob West, Rick Pritchett, Larry Johnson and a ghost.

Closest to the pin winners were Hollier (No. 2), Tony Trevino (No. 7) and Byerly (No. 12). Rufus Reyes and Ted Freeman tied for CTOP on No. 15.

The Friday 2 ball at Zaharias saw the team of Jim Cady, Troy Touchet, Marshall and Stewart Ellis take the front with minus 3. On the back there was a tie at even par between the team of Ed Holley, Steve Wisenbaker, James Trahan and Dwayne Benoit and the foursome of James Shipley, Thad Keishnick, Johnson and Paul Duplantis.

Closest to the pin winners were Hollier (No. 2), Holley (No. 12) and Earl Richard (No. 15).

In the Thursday 2 ball, the team of West, Pritchett, Gongora and a ghost won the front with minus 2. Even par won the back for the team of Freeman, John Jessen, Lee Bertrand and Harrell Guidry.

Due to wet conditions, the Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was played in a par 4 game format, using 2 best balls. Trying for first was the team of Freeman, Raymond Darbonne, Dale Carter and a ghost and the team of Earl Richard, Tommy Bellow, Jeff Rinehard and a ghost.

Closest to the pin winners were Freeman (No. 2), Bertrand (No. 7), Ron Mistrot (No. 12) and Holley (No. 15).

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