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Rudi Ball

(1910 - 1975)

Rudi Victor Ball (March 27, 1910 — September 1975) was a champion ice hockey player. He was born in Berlin and died in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ball was one of two athletes of Jewish descent to represent Germany in the 1936 Olympic Games in the Bavarian Alps. The other Jewish athlete was Helene Mayer. There was much controversy about his inclusion in the 1936 German Olympic Ice Hockey team at the time by the Nazi government. Ball was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

During his playing career, spanning from 1928 to 1952, he won the German Championship 8 times (1928-1944) and participated for Germany in the 1932 and 1936 Olympic Winter Games and in four World Championships 1930-1938.

He played in total 49 official games for Germany, between 1929 and 1938, and scored 19 goals. Ball was voted as the best European ice hockey player in a French Sports Magazine in 1930. He was considered one of the most popular and dreaded European ice hockey players prior to the Second World War. Ball scored over 500 goals during his career.

He and his two brothers, Gerhard Ball and Heinz Ball, represented Germany in many international competitions in their hockey careers. While reasonably short, Ball was considered extremely fast on the ice and was admired as having much skill and ability.

Ball was included in the 1932 German ice hockey team, to play at the 1932 Olympic games, held in Lake Placid. The German team won the bronze medal. He played all six matches and scored three goals.

In 1936, having Jewish heritage, Ball (the 25-year-old captain) was initially overlooked for selection in the German ice hockey team. His good friend and teammate, Gustav Jaenecke, refused to play unless Ball was included. Ball also believed a deal could be struck to save his family in Germany if he returned to play in the games. The German selectors also realized that without Ball and Jaenecke the team would not stand a chance of winning. Another factor was that the Nazi party could not overlook the fact that Ball was without doubt one of the leading athletes in his sport. With much controversy, Ball was included in the German team to play at the 1936 Olympic games. The deal for Ball’s family to leave Germany was also agreed. After Ball was injured, the Germans took 5th place in the Olympic tournament. Ball played four matches and scored two goals.

Ball followed his brother, Heinz, to South Africa in 1948. He died in Johannesburg in 1975.

Sources: Wikipedia