Born: March 27,1910 in Berlin

Died: September 1975 in Johannesburg, South Africa

Position: Right Wing, Defenseman (Late in his career)

Shoots: R

 

Jersey Number: 4 & 5

 

Height: 5' 4" (163 cm)

Weight: 140 Ibs (63 kg)

 

Skates: Size 6 (36)

Clubs:  

SC Brandenburg Berlin (1927-28), 

Berliner SC (1928-33,36-44),
EHC St.Moritz (1933-34), 

Diavoli Rosso Neri (1934-36),

SG Eichkamp (1946-48),
Tigers I.H.C. (1949-50), 

Wolves I.H.C. (1950-51).

International: Germany 49 games – 19 goals

Merits:
Olympic games 1932 (bronze), 1936
World Championships 1930 (silver), 1933, 1937, 1938 
European Championships 1929, 1932 (bronze)
German Champion 8 times
South African Champion 1 time

Spengler Cup winner 3 times

Elected to the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2004 as a player

 

 

The beginning...
It was on the night of Dec.20,1925 that a 15-year old Rudi Ball decided to become
a hockey player. A friend of his took him to a game at the Berliner Sportpalast between
two of Europes top teams at that time, Berliner SC against Wiener EV.
The Austrians had a young Canadian medical student by the name of Blake Watson.
A few years earlier Watson had won the Memorial Cup with Manitoba where he was
a teammate of several future NHL-players.

Rudi couldn't take his eyes off the elegant Watson who scored all of his teams goals
in the game as Vienna won 4-3.
Soon his father bought him a pair of rather expensive Canadian skates.
Rudi had tried skating earlier on, but gave it up due to his rather fragile ankles.
But he decided to give it one more chance. He was on the ice almost every day and was
one of several youngsters who got his hockey fundamentals shown to him by the old
Swedish (and German) international Nils Molander who used to play in Berlin for the
Berliner SC.

But Rudi's first competitive hockey was played in another Berlin club, SC Brandenburg,
until he went on to play for the Berliner SC second team in 1927-28.
the 17-year old Rudi Ball took a regular spot on Berliner SC's second team and was
promoted to the first team of Berliner SC the next season, which was no small feat considering
the stiff competition among the forwards.
BSC had probably the strongest forwards in Europe at the time, with Gustav Jaenecke,
Austrian Herbert Brück and the French speedster Albert Hassler, all stars on their
national teams.

 

 

A speedster and the best Ball...

Rudi Ball was quick and elegant on his right wing position. He was a dynamic skater
with incredible speed and uncanny stickhandling. He had a quick release of the shot which
was very accurate.Rudi was a very small player but thanks to his cleverness and fighting spirit
he never had any problems in excelling on the ice.

Early on in his hockey career he was one of the driving forces on his team.
In his first German championship (1929) Rudi scored the game-winning goal early in the 3rd
period as Berliner SC beat their fiercest rival SC Riessersee 2-1in the final in front of 2,000 people.

Now Rudi wasn't the only member of the family who played hockey.
His two older brothers were also very capable players. Gerhard, a goalie, even represented Germany
on a number of occasions. Heinz, the middle brother was not far behind.
In 1930 all three Ball brothers captured the German title as BSC routed
TSV Brandenburg 9-1. Rudi had a superb game with 3 goals and one assist and
scored a total of 8 goals in the 3 final games of the German championships.
A focused Gerhard in goal had a quiet evening as BSC cruised to the victory.

In 1931 BSC continued the dominance of German hockey as all three brothers once
again helped the team capture yet another title. This time BSC crushed Vfb Königsberg
9-2 in the final. Rudi scored a few goals and was instrumental once again in the win.

Internationally all three brothers appeared together for the first time in a game on December 13,1929
at the Berliner Sportpalast. They were greeted by an enthusiastic home crowd.
BSC beat Oxford University 6-0. Gerhard was excellent in goal and got a well-deserved shutout.
Heinz had a strong overall game and Rudi chipped in with 2 goals.
Their father who had been a great supporter over the years was in the stands and was extremely proud
of his sons.

There was no doubt that Rudi was the most talented hockey player of the three.
He was frequently named to various European All-Star Teams that were put together against the

touring Canadian squads. His first induction to such an All-Star squad came way back late in 1929

when Rudi was only 18.
In these All-Star games Rudi Ball played alongside the greatest European forwards
at that time. He formed lines with Herbert Brück (Austria), Gustav Jaenecke (Germany),
Bibi Torriani (Switzerland) and Josef Malecek (Czechoslovakia) to name a few.

 

International success...

Rudi Ball was of course no stranger to important international tournaments.
He participated in his first World Championship 1930 held in Chamonix.
He picked up 1 goal and added 4 assists in the 5 games. His only goal of the tournament
came in the final against Canada (1-6) as Germany captured the Silver medal.

Rudi Ball opened the 1931-32 season in remarkable fashion and was virtually unstoppable.
On Dec.17,1931 a French newspaper published what they thought were the
10 best players in Europe at that time, a list that was topped by Rudi Ball, ahead of such
great players as Gustav Jaenecke, Josef Malecek and his old idol Blake Watson.

That same season (1931-32) Rudi Ball was a shoe-in to play in the Olympic games, held in Lake Placid.

Only four teams competed in the tournament and Germany captured the bronze medal.
Rudi was the best German player and scored 3 goals and added 2 assists in 6 games.
He also had 4 goals and 1 assist in 5 friendly games over in North America.

In 1933 Rudi was once again a key player for Germany in the World Championships held
in Prague where he scored 5 goals in 6 games.


 

A new career abroad...

Late in 1933 the three Ball brothers set their sights on Switzerland and moved to St.Moritz
where they arrived on Nov.7,1933. Both Gerhard and Heinz had previously played abroad
(A short stint In London 1930 where they won the British title)

Everything in St.Moritz revolved around Rudi who was the star of the team.
He scored a goal per game during his stint there and was a popular teammate.
Gerhard had a respectable goals against average of 3,15 considering that St.Moritz played
several games against American and Canadian opposition.

in 1934-35 Rudi, Heinz and Gerhard went on to play for the Italian team Diavoli Rosso Neri
out of Milan. Rudi was once again the star of the team, this time he was well-supported by a

Canadian named Howie Grant. They both scored more than one goal per game for Diavoli.
Gerhard was sharp all season long in goal and had a stingy 2,00 GAA. Heinz only played a few

games for the A-team of Diavoli.

Rudi continued to play for Diavoli in 1935-36 as well. This time he had two Canadians
alongside him, Henry Hayes and Gordie Poirier. Rudi continued with his steady play and

scored more than a goal per game for the third consecutive season. He was a key factor in

Diavoli winning the Spengler Cup late in Dec. 1935, the most prestigious European tournament

at that time. That marked the end of his tenure in Milan as he played his last game for them on

Jan.3,1936.


                Diavoli Rosso Neri 1935/36 - Rudi Ball 4:th player from left.

 


Welcome home...
Five days later he was selected to play for the German National Team and the

upcoming Olympics held at home in Berlin.

Initially there were some political decisions behind the scenes.
Since Rudi was of Jewish origin he was overlooked for the national team, but his old
linemate and best friend Gustav Jaenecke wouldn't play without Rudi.
The Germans quickly realized that if neither Jaenecke or Ball would be in the lineup
the team would be virtually useless. These two players carried the team on their shoulders.
Germany still was a bit of a disappointment and Rudi scored 3 goals in 6 games.

Two months after returning back to Germany Rudi continued where he left off and helped

Berliner SC capture the German Championship. This time BSC won a hardfought game 3-2
after a triple overtime against SC Riessersee. Rudi scored the ever important first
goal of the game.

The following year (1937), Rudi once again helped BSC win the German Championship.
And again it was SC Riessersee who were the opponents.
The first final ended in a 1-1draw after three scoreless overtime periods.
Rudi scored the only BSC goal. A month later when the game was replayed BSC won 3-0
after two goals by Rudi.

In 1938 Rudi played his last World Championship tournament held in Prague.
He did represent Germany later on though (until 1941).

He continued to play for Berliner SC in various capacities until 1944.
He then made a comeback at the age of 36 with his brother Gerhard (in goal) (43) in

Dec.1946 for Berlin West (SG Eichkamp). Rudi looked like in the old days with his

usual sharp skating and puckhandling, scoring a whopping 18 goals in only 5 friendly games.
he helped SG Eichkamp reach the final of the German Championships.
Both brothers also played for SG Eichkamp in 1947-48.

 

Hello South Africa...

Then in 1948 Rudi Ball moved to South Africa where his brother Heinz had lived for over
10 years. Rudi settled down in Johannesburg and of course couldn't leave hockey behind him,
the sport that had given him so much.
He went on to play for Tigers I.H.C. in 1949-50 where he played as a defenseman and scored

10 goals in 7 registered games.
During the 1950-51 season Rudi switched to Wolves I.H.C. and scored 7 goals
in 6 games.

Rudi's last known appearance in a hockey game came during the 1951-52 season when
he played on an All-Star Team named "Overseas All-Star team" which played against
South African All-Stars. Rudi's team won 10-4 and the old man scored 4 goals himself.
A very fitting end of a marvellous hockey career that spanned over 4 decades and that
saw him score over 500 career goals.

Rudi became a successful and well-respected businessman in South Africa until his
death in 1975. He was a true legend of pre-WW II European hockey and was deservingly
inducted to the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2004.

 

 

Note:

Gerhard L. Ball  

 

(b.1903 in Berlin - d.1982 in Spain)

International Career :

Played for Germany in the 1932 European Championships

and in the 1933 World Championships


Club Career :  

Played for Berliner SC 1928-29, 

Berliner SC (from 29th October to 30th March) and 

London Lions (April & May) 1929-30,

Berliner SC 1930-33, EHC St.Moritz 1933-34, 

Diavoli Rosso Neri 1934-36 and

SG Eichamp Berlin 1946-48.


Medals :

Won the British Championship in 1929-30.
Won the German Championship twice between 1928 and 1933.
Won the Spengler Cup 1934-35.

 

A calm goalie with good concentration.
In addition to his International games for Germany,

he also played for a European Combination team against

the USA and Canada in the early 1930s.

He emigrated to South Africa in 1948 and settled in Cape Town.

 

 

 

Heinz S. Ball  

 

(b.1907 in Berlin - d.1966 in Cape Town, South Africa) 

was described as a player with a sharp shot,deceptive cleverness,

good skating and stickhandling, just like Rudi,but not quite in his class.

He moved to South Africa in 1936 and represented a South African combination team

in the first international game played in Johannesburg in September 1936 against Oxford University.

He was appointed manager for the Union Ice Rink in Johannesburg which opened in June 1937.

He then moved to Cape Town.

Club Career :

Played for Berliner SC 1927-29,

Berliner SC (from 29th October to 30th March) and

London Lions (April & May) 1929-30, 

Berliner SC 1930-33, 

EHC St.Moritz 1933-34,

Diavoli Rosso Neri 1934-36 and

Johannesburg Lions 1936-37.


Medals :

Won the British Championship in 1929-30.

Won the German Championship twice between 1930 and 1933.

Won the Spengler Cup 1934-35.

 

©SIHSS 2004,  Birger Nordmark & Patrick Houda