Albert Ball

Albert Ball

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Albert Ball was born in Nottingham on 14th August 1896. An engineering student when the First World War started, he joined the Sherwood Foresters before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. Considered an only average pilot, he began his fighting career in May 1916. At first he concentrated on ambushing poorly defended two-seater German planes.

With his confidence growing, Ball began to make single-handed attacks on German planes flying in formation. His preferred position was a few yards directly beneath his opponent who he would shoot by tilting up his single wing-mounted Lewis gun. Flying a Nieuport 17, Ball supported the offensive at the Somme. By the time he was sent back to England in October 1916, Ball was credited with thirty victories.

Appointed flight commander in No. 56 Squadron, Ball began flying the recently developed S.E.5. On the morning of 6th May 1917, Ball brought down a Albatros D-II. Later that evening he was seen in combat with a German single-seater. The pair crashed in deep cloud and Ball's body was later found in the wreckage. By the time of his death, Ball, who was only twenty years old, had won the Victoria Cross, the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre.

From 26 April to 6 May 1917 flying over France, Captain Ball took part in 26 combats in the course of which he destroyed 11 hostile aircraft, brought down two out of control and forced several others to land. Flying alone, on one occasion he fought six hostile machines, twice he fought five and once four. When leading two other British planes he attacked an enemy formation of eight - on each of these occasions he brought down at least one enemy plane, and several times his plane was badly damaged. On returning with a damaged plane he had always to be restrained from immediately going out in another.

Albert Ball

Albert Ball was arguably the Royal Flying Corp’s most famous flying ‘ace’ during World War One. While he didn’t shoot down as many planes as some, be did do a good job of representing what a flying ace should be - young, handsome, modest and brave.

Albert Ball was born on 14th August 1896 and joined the Sherwood Foresters Regiment when World War One broke out. After taking private flying lessons, Ball joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915 and was awarded his wings in January 1916.

In February, Ball was sent to France where he discovered he had a natural ability to fly single-seat fighter aeroplanes, as well as natural aggression towards the enemy. He quickly gained a reputation for being a formidable opponent and a ‘lone wolf’ who like to attack on his own rather than as part of a team. He also epitomised all that Hugh Trenchard wanted from the RFC as the war progressed.

Ball was so successful that on 27th June 1916, he was awarded a Military Cross. In October of the same year he was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and two bars - the first person in the British Army to be awarded this. To many, he was considered a national hero. Although he made it clear this was not a label he wanted.

In April 1917, Ball returned to France to head his own squadron, No.56. Sadly, he was killed just one month later on 7th May in combat. There is some doubt as to why he crashed behind German lines but the kill was claimed by Lothar von Richthofen. Ball was buried with full military honours.

During his career, Ball was credited with one balloon shot down, 28 aircraft including one shared, six out of control aircraft and nine forced to land. On 8th June 1917, Ball was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions. The citation read as follows:

“Lt. (temp. Capt.) Albert Ball, D.S.O., M.C., late Notts. and Derby R., and R.F.C.

For most conspicuous and consistent bravery from the 25th of April to the 6th of May, 1917, during which period Capt. Ball took part in twenty-six combats in the air and destroyed eleven hostile aeroplanes, drove down two out of control, and forced several others to land. In these combats Capt. Ball, flying alone, on one occasion fought six hostile machines, twice he fought five and once four. When leading two other British aeroplanes he attacked an enemy formation of eight. On each of these occasions he brought down at least one enemy. Several times his aeroplane was badly damaged, once so seriously that but for the most delicate handling his machine would have collapsed, as nearly all the control wires had been shot away. On returning with a damaged machine he had always to be restrained from immediately going out on another. In all, Capt. Ball has destroyed forty-three German aeroplanes and one balloon, and has always displayed most exceptional courage, determination and skill.”

His death in combat at an early age did have an impact on the RFC at the time causing much despondency – such was his status among other pilots.


1800s Edit

In 1851 the Great Exhibition, organised by Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, was held in Hyde Park, London. The Exhibition was a success and led Prince Albert to propose the creation of a group of permanent facilities for the public benefit, which came to be known as Albertopolis. The Exhibition's Royal Commission bought Gore House, but it was slow to act, and in 1861 Prince Albert died without having seen his ideas come to fruition. However, a memorial was proposed for Hyde Park, with a Great Hall opposite. [3]

The proposal was approved, and the site was purchased with some of the profits from the Exhibition. The Hall was designed by civil engineers Captain Francis Fowke and Major-General Henry Y. D. Scott of the Royal Engineers and built by Lucas Brothers. [4] The designers were heavily influenced by ancient amphitheatres but had also been exposed to the ideas of Gottfried Semper while he was working at the South Kensington Museum. [3] The recently opened Cirque d'Hiver in Paris was seen in the contemporary press as the design to outdo. [ citation needed ] The Hall was constructed mainly of Fareham Red brick, with terra cotta block decoration made by Gibbs and Canning Limited of Tamworth. [5] [3]

The dome (designed by Rowland Mason Ordish) was made of wrought iron and glazed. There was a trial assembly of the dome's iron framework in Manchester then it was taken apart again and transported to London by horse and cart. When the time came for the supporting structure to be removed from the dome after reassembly in situ, only volunteers remained on site in case the structure collapsed. It did drop – but only by five-sixteenths of an inch (7.9 mm). [6] The Hall was scheduled to be completed by Christmas Day 1870, and the Queen visited a few weeks beforehand to inspect. [7]

The official opening ceremony of the Hall was on 29 March 1871. This had originally been scheduled for 1 May, the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the Great Exhibition, but was brought forward at the request of Queen Victoria. [3] A welcoming speech was given by Edward, the Prince of Wales because the Queen was too overcome to speak "her only recorded comment on the Hall was that it reminded her of the British constitution". [8]

In the concert that followed, the Hall's acoustic problems immediately became apparent. Engineers first tried to remove the strong echo by suspending a canvas awning below the dome. This helped and also sheltered concert-goers from the sun, but the problem was not solved: it used to be jokingly said the Hall was "the only place where a British composer could be sure of hearing his work twice". [ citation needed ]

In July 1871, French organist Camille Saint-Saëns performed Church Scene from Faust by Charles Gounod The Orchestra described his performance as "an exceptional and distinguished performer . the effect was most marvellous." [ citation needed ]

Initially lit by gas, the Hall contained a special system by which thousands of gas jets were lit within ten seconds. Though it was demonstrated as early as 1873 in the Hall, [9] full electric lighting was not installed until 1888. [8] During an early trial when a partial installation was made, one disgruntled patron wrote to The Times, declaring it to be "a very ghastly and unpleasant innovation". [ citation needed ]

In May 1877, Richard Wagner himself conducted the first half of each of the eight concerts which made up the Grand Wagner Festival. After his turn with the baton, he handed it over to conductor Hans Richter and sat in a large armchair on the corner of the stage for the rest of each concert. Wagner's wife Cosima, the daughter of Hungarian virtuoso pianist and composer Franz Liszt, was among the audience. [ citation needed ]

The Wine Society was founded at the Hall on 4 August 1874, [10] after large quantities of cask wine were found in the cellars. A series of lunches were held to publicise the wines, and General Henry Scott proposed a co-operative company to buy and sell wines. [11]

1900s Edit

In 1906 Elsie Fogerty founded the Central School of Speech and Drama at the Hall, using its West Theatre, now the Elgar Room, as the school's theatre. The school moved to Swiss Cottage in north London in 1957. Whilst the school was based at the Royal Albert Hall, students who graduated from its classes included Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, Harold Pinter, Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft. [12] [ page needed ]

In 1911 Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff performed as a part of the London Ballad Concert. The recital included his 'Prelude in C-sharp minor' and 'Elegie in E-flat minor' (both from Morceaux de Fantaisie). [13]

In 1933 German physicist Albert Einstein led the 'Einstein Meeting' at the hall for the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics, a British charity. [14]

In 1936, the Hall was the scene of a giant rally celebrating the British Empire on the occasion of the centenary of Joseph Chamberlain's birth. In October 1942, the Hall suffered minor damage during World War II bombing, but in general was left mostly untouched as German pilots used the distinctive structure as a landmark. [9]

In 1949 the canvas awning was removed and replaced with fluted aluminium panels below the glass roof, in a new attempt to cure the echo but the acoustics were not properly tackled until 1969 when large fibreglass acoustic diffusing discs (commonly referred to as "mushrooms" or "flying saucers") were installed below the ceiling. [8] In 1968, the Hall hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 1968 [15] and from 1969 to 1988 the Miss World contest was staged in the venue. [16] In 1995, Greek keyboardist Yanni performed a concert there for his World Tour the concert was recorded under the name of Live at Royal Albert Hall

From 1996 until 2004, the Hall underwent a programme of renovation and development supported by a £20 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £20m from Arts Council England to enable it to meet the demands of the next century of events and performances. Thirty "discreet projects" were designed and supervised by the architecture and engineering firm BDP without disrupting events. These projects included improved ventilation to the auditorium, more bars and restaurants, improved seating, better technical facilities, and improved backstage areas. Internally, the Circle seating was rebuilt during June 1996 to provide more legroom, better access, and improved sightlines. [17]

2000s Edit

The largest project of the ongoing renovation and development was the building of a new south porch – door 12, accommodating a first-floor restaurant, new ground floor box office and subterranean loading bay. Although the exterior of the building was largely unchanged, the south steps leading down to Prince Consort Road were demolished to allow construction of underground vehicle access and a loading bay with accommodation for three HGVs carrying all the equipment brought by shows. The steps were then reconstructed around a new south porch, named The Meitar Foyer after a significant donation from Mr & Mrs Meitar. The porch was built on a similar scale and style to the three pre-existing porches at Door 3, 6 and 9: these works were undertaken by Taylor Woodrow Construction. [17] The original steps featured in the early scenes of the 1965 film The Ipcress File. On 4 June 2004, the project received the Europa Nostra Award for remarkable achievement. [18] The East (Door 3) and West (Door 9) porches were glazed and new bars opened along with ramps to improve disabled access. The Stalls were rebuilt in a four-week period in 2000 using steel supports allowing more space underneath for two new bars 1,534 unique pivoting seats were laid – with an addition of 180 prime seats. The Choirs were rebuilt at the same time. The whole building was redecorated in a style that reinforces its Victorian identity. 43,000 sq ft (4,000 m 2 ) of new carpets were laid in the rooms, stairs, and corridors – specially woven with a border that follows the oval curve of the building. [19]

Between 2002 and 2004, there was a major rebuilding of the great organ (known as the Voice of Jupiter), [20] built by "Father" Henry Willis in 1871 and rebuilt by Harrison & Harrison in 1924 and 1933. The rebuilding was performed by Mander Organs, [21] and it is now the second-largest pipe organ in the British Isles with 9,999 pipes in 147 stops. [22] The largest is the Grand Organ in Liverpool Cathedral which has 10,268 pipes. [23]

During the first half of 2011, changes were made to the backstage areas to relocate and increase the size of crew catering areas under the South Steps away from the stage and create additional dressing rooms nearer to the stage. [24]

From January to May 2013, the Box Office area at Door 12 underwent further modernisation to include a new Café Bar on the ground floor, a new Box Office with shop counters and additional toilets. The design and construction were carried out by contractor 8Build. Upon opening it was renamed 'The Zvi and Ofra Meitar Porch and Foyer.' owing to a large donation from the couple. [25]

In Autumn 2013, work began on replacing the Victorian steam heating system over three years and improving and cooling across the building. This work followed the summer Proms season during which temperatures were unusually high. [26]

In 2017 work began on a two-story 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m 2 ) basement extension for use as backstage and archival space to the south-west quadrant of the building. The project is nicknamed the "Great Excavation", in reference to the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was planned to be complete for the Halls 150th anniversary in 2021. [27]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions meant the Hall was closed for the first time since the Second World War. During winter 2020 it reopened for three socially distanced performances but was later closed for a second period. [27]

The Hall, a Grade I listed building, [28] is an ellipse in plan, with its external major and minor axis of 272 and 236 feet (83 and 72 meters), and its internal minor and major axis of 185 and 219 feet (56 and 67 m). [29] [30] The great glass and wrought-iron dome roofing the Hall is 135 ft (41 m) high. The Hall was originally designed with a capacity for 8,000 people and has accommodated as many as 12,000 (although present-day safety restrictions mean the maximum permitted capacity is now 5,272 [1] including standing in the Gallery).

Around the outside of the building is 800-foot–long terracotta mosaic frieze, depicting "The Triumph of Arts and Sciences", in reference to the Hall's dedication. [29] Proceeding anti-clockwise from the north side the sixteen subjects of the frieze are:

  1. Various Countries of the World bringing in their Offerings to the Exhibition of 1851
  2. Music
  3. Sculpture
  4. Painting
  5. Princes, Art Patrons and Artists
  6. Workers in Stone
  7. Workers in Wood and Brick
  8. Architecture
  9. The Infancy of the Arts and Sciences
  10. Agriculture
  11. Horticulture and Land Surveying
  12. Astronomy and Navigation
  13. A Group of Philosophers, Sages and Students
  14. Engineering
  15. The Mechanical Powers
  16. Pottery and Glassmaking

Above the frieze is an inscription in 12-inch-high (30 cm) terracotta letters that combine historical fact and Biblical quotations:

Below the Arena floor there is room for two 4000 gallon water tanks, which are used for shows that flood the arena like Madame Butterfly. [31]


Founded by brother’s Ralph and Albert Slazenger in 1888, Slazenger has a long and distinguished history, which was further enhanced in 1940 with the Company’s acquisition of Ayres (est. 1810) and Sykes (est. 1875). Read on to find out how Slazenger has remained at the forefront of Sports in England and throughout the world for more than 120 years.

In 1890 Gow of the Glasgow Golf Club manufactured the very first Slazenger Golf Clubs. The next year in 1891 saw the introduction of the Slazenger’s first Golf Ball, the ‘Guttie’. Using the Slazenger ball Harold Hilton won the British Open in 1892 and again in 1897.

In 1902, at the request of the leading players at the time, Slazenger tennis balls were first used at Wimbledon. Also in this decade Laurie Doherty, Dorothea Douglas, Norman Brookes and Arthur Gore win multiple Wimbledon titles.

In 1910 New Zealander Tony Wilding wins the first of four successive titles with an Ayres racket and William Larned wins the last of his five US open titles with Slazenger. The Company is floated in 1911.

Slazenger opens their first factories in Australia (1922) and Canada in 1924 paving the way for global recognition of the brand in years to follow. In 1929 Don Bradman signs a contract to use a signature bat made by Sykes. .

In 1932 Fred Perry switches to Slazenger rackets before winning his first grand slam title in the US in 1933 and the first of his three Wimbledon titles in 1934. In 1938 Len Hutton scores a record 364 against Australia.

In 1942 William Sykes and Ayres merge with Slazenger in 1942 to form Slazenger’s Ltd. In 1941 Slazenger’s London factories were damaged during the Blitz forcing relocation to Horbury. 1949 saw Bobby Locke winning the first of four Open Championships with Slazenger.

Ken Rosewall wins both the Australian and French Opens with this Slazenger racket in 1953 and Althea Gibson becomes Slazenger’s first Wimbledon Ladies Champion since the war. In 1959 Slazenger’s Ltd was acquired by Dunlop operating under the International Sports Company (ICS) umbrella.

In 1960, Slazenger player Neale Fraser won both the US and Wimbledon Finals. 1963 saw the company register their now famous panther logo and develop an extensive clothing line. Jack Nicklaus signs with Slazenger in 1964. In 1966 Slazenger soccer balls were selected for the World Cup.

1970 saw Slazenger’s Margaret Court win all four Grand Slam titles. In 1971 ICS (Slazenger’s umbrella corporation) receives the Queen’s Award to Industry and in 1976 Slazenger introduces the Graphite ‘Phantom’ Racket. 1979 saw Seve Ballesteros win his first ever Open Championship.

At 23, Slazenger’s Seve Ballesteros becomes the youngest ever winner of the Augusta Masters in 1980. Dunlop Slazenger formed International formed in 1983 combining both brands under a single umbrella. 1986 saw yellow Slazenger balls played at Wimbledon for the first time. Slazenger signs Jimmy Connors in 1988.

1991 saw Slazenger’s Ian Woosnam win the Masters followed by Bernard Langher in 1993 and jose-Maria Olazabel in 1994. In 1997 Wimbledon set a new all-time attendance record of 436,351 and the following year in 1998 he prize money passes the £7.5m mark.

In 2002 Wimbledon and Slazenger celebrate 100 years of Slazenger balls being used being used at the event. Tim Henman switches to Slazenger rackets, reaching the Wimbledon finals in 2001 and 2002. Slazenger sign England Internationals Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior and Ian Bell as well as South Africa’s Jacques Kallis.

Plaque unveiled at former home of Albert Ball, Nottingham's greatest First World War hero

Captain Albert Ball, Nottingham’s most celebrated hero of the First World War, has been given a double honour – more than a century after he was killed in action.

A plaque was unveiled today, Monday, at Sedgley House, the home in The Park where Albert was raised with his sister Lois and brother Cyril before going off to war.

And further recognition came when a brand new double-decker Nottingham City Transport bus arrived bearing the name of the young pilot who won a host of bravery medals, including the Victoria Cross, before making the supreme sacrifice at the age of 20.

A host of VIPs turned out to honour Ball, the youngest ever recipient of the Freedom of Nottingham, including Lord Mayor Coun Mike Edwards, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Tom Huggon, the Rev Andy Morris, representatives of the Mercian Regiment, including their ram mascot Private Derby, and the RAF. A guard of honour was formed by members of 138 (1st Nottingham) ATC.

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Members of the Ball family were there to witness the proud moment and a message was read out from College Albert Ball, the school located in the French town of Annouellin where he is buried.

Mrs Vanda Day, Ball’s great niece and his closest living relative, said: “It is always humbling to see how people here in Nottingham, and also in France, work together to keep Albert’s memory alive.

“It is a proud moment for the family, but also an emotional one.”

In a moving ceremony organised by the Robin Hood Rifles – Ball’s first enlistment after the declaration of war in 1914 – and Nottingham Civic Society, Coun Edwards was joined by Mrs Day and other close relatives, to unveil the plaque outside 43 Lenton Road.

Home owner Mrs Billie Ragosta said she moved into the house, with her husband Dan, 12 years ago with no knowledge that it had belonged to the Ball family.

“One day I noticed all these people gathered outside. I asked if I could help and they said they were looking for Albert Ball’s house and when they said it was number 43, I was stunned.

“But it is not a surprise,” said the interior designer. “This house has an atmosphere, you can feel his presence in the fabric. This is where he and his brother and sister had fun.”

Chair of Nottingham Civic Society, Hilary Silvester, said: “We are honoured to be associated with the installation of this plaque Albert Ball was a citizen of Nottingham of whom we can all be proud.”

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Ball, the elder son of wealthy property developer and local politician Sir Albert Ball, was still three months short of his 21st birthday when he crashed during a dogfight over German lines on May 7, 1917, dying in the arms of a local girl who ran to his aid.

With more than 40 victories in the air to his credit, he was already the holder of the Distinguished Service Order with two bars, the Military Cross and a bravery award from the Russians.

Given a funeral by the Germans with full military honours and recognised by their leading pilot the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, as “the best of English fliers”, a grateful nation recognised Ball’s sacrifice with the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Closer to home, thousands of people lined the streets of Nottingham for a memorial service held in St Mary’s Church just a few weeks after his death.

Albert Ball Snr bought the plot of land on which his son had died, erecting a marker on the spot. The area is still tended by residents of Annoeullin.

After the s double unveiling, the annual ceremony of remembrance was held at the Albert Ball Memorial in the grounds of Nottingham Castle. An exhibition of Ball’s medals and memorabilia is permanently on display in the Museum of the Mercian Regiment housed inside the Castle.

A Brief History of the Magic 8 Ball

Since the 1950s, generation after generation of children have turned to one object to provide answers to the more burning yes/no questions of life: the Magic 8 Ball. But was the Magic 8 Ball always intended as a children’s fortune-telling toy? And why, of all things, is it shaped like a billiard ball?

If you were to grab the Magic 8 Ball off your desk right now and ask it “Will this article answer all those questions and more?” the words “Without a Doubt” would hopefully emerge through the murky blue liquid. However, with mathematical probability taken into consideration, this might not be the case after consulting Dr. Lucien Cohen, a psychology professor at the University of Cincinnati, the creators of the Magic 8 Ball decided upon 20 possible responses: 10 positive, five negative, and five indifferent.


From an early age, Albert C. Carter, the son of a Cincinnati clairvoyant, found himself surrounded by all things mystical. As his mother Mary’s popularity as a medium increased, so too did Albert’s interest in her work. In particular, he—like the majority of her clients—was fascinated by one of her fortune-telling inventions: the Psycho-Slate.

The Psycho-Slate consisted of a small chalkboard that could be placed inside of a sealed container. While with a client, Mary would close the lid of the container and ask a question aloud to the “other world.” To her clients’ amazement, the room would fill with the sounds of chalk scribbling across the board. When the scratchings died down, Mary would then open the container to reveal the answer as dictated by the spirits. While no one is quite sure exactly how Mary achieved the results, it is safe to say that this inspired Albert to create his own version of the Psycho-Slate—one that didn’t require any psychic ability.

In 1944, Carter completed the device that he would call the Syco-Seer. The result was a liquid-filled tube, divided in the center. On each end, a clear window allowed a view of the worded dice Carter had placed in each half. By turning the tube upright, one die would slowly raise through the viscous liquid, revealing a response to the user’s question. (In his book, Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them, author Tim Walsh claims that Carter used molasses early on.)

Feeling confident in the Syco-Seer, Carter presented the prototype to a local Cincinnati store owner, Max Levinson. Levinson immediately took to the idea, so much so that he expressed an interest in working with Carter to mass-produce the Syco-Seer. To accomplish this, Levinson contacted his brother-in-law, Abe Bookman.


Abe Bookman, or Buchmann as he was known before the Anglicization of his name in 1955, was a first-generation American born to Russian Jewish parents. A smart and business-savvy man, Bookman graduated from the Ohio Mechanics Institute in 1921. Because of this, Carter and Levinson turned to Bookman to handle the logistics of producing the Syco-Seer on a larger scale.

They formed a novelty company, Alabe Crafts, Inc. (a combination of Abe and Albert’s first names) in 1946. Under Bookman’s guidance, Alabe Crafts produced and marketed the Syco-Seer as a “Miracle Home Fortune-Teller.”

Though Carter had applied for a patent for his “Liquid Filled Dice Agitator” on September 23, 1944, he unfortunately didn’t live to see it granted in 1948. While it is unclear what became of Carter in his final years or exactly when he died, most sources state the cause of his troubles stemmed from his “gypsy lifestyle” and alcoholism. Luckily for Alabe Crafts, Carter had shared the patent assignment credit with Bookman and Levinson.


Following Carter’s passing, Bookman spearheaded a redesign of the Syco-Seer. In order to reduce to cost of production, Bookman removed one end of the tube, turning it into a smaller, single-windowed viewer. With this slimming change, Bookman decided to rebrand the Syco-Seer as the Syco-Slate: The Pocket Fortune Teller.

In 1948, Bookman opted for another redesign, this time in an attempt to tie in a marketing theme he placed the Syco-Slate tube inside a crystal ball. While this did nothing to improve sales, it garnered the attention of Brunswick Billiards who, in 1950, were on the lookout for a fun item to use as a potential giveaway to promote their Chicago-based billiards company.

Bookman jumped at the opportunity. He changed the design once again, replacing the crystal ball with the iconic black 8 ball we know today. Once the promotion had ended and Bookman’s contract with Brunswick was fulfilled, he decided to keep the 8 ball design, energized by the success of the giveaway.

Bookman then went on to market the Magic 8 Ball as a paperweight. It wasn’t until he noticed the 8 Ball’s popularity among children that Bookman decided to re-market the product as a toy. With this, the Magic 8 Ball quickly found its footing.

In 1971, Bookman sold Alabe Crafts and the Magic 8 Ball to Ideal Toys. Today, the Ball is owned by Mattel, who claims to sell a million Magic 8 Balls every year. In 2011, TIME Magazine named the Magic 8 Ball as one of the “All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys.”

Player Value--Batting

View Complete Notes on Fielding Data

  • Pre-1916 SB & CS data for catchers is estimated from catcher assists, games started and opposition stolen bases.
  • From 1916 on SB, CS, Pickoff, & WP data for catchers and pitchers is taken from play-by-play accounts in the retrosheet files. There are several hundred games without pbp from 1916 to 1972 and for those we may not have any data.
  • CG & GS come from the retrosheet data and should be complete and pretty accurate from 1901 on.
  • Innings played (like SB and CS) come from the retrosheet play-by-play data and should be considered mostly complete from 1916 to 1972 and complete from then on.
  • Stats (PO,A,G, etc) for LF-CF-RF positions (since 1901) is taken from play-by-play or box score data as available.
  • Stats (PO,A,G,etc) for C,P,1B,2B,3B,SS,OF positions is taken from the official reported totals and may have been corrected at various times since their publication.
  • For detailed information on which games retrosheet is missing play-by-play from 1916 to 1972, please see their most wanted games list
  • For detailed information on the availability of data on this site by year, see our data coverage page

War hero Albert Ball's violin to be played again - after more than a century of silence

The violin owned by air ace Captain Albert Ball hasn’t been heard for more than a century.

The heroic Nottingham pilot used to play the instrument in quiet moments when he wasn’t hurling his flimsy flying machine into action over the Western Front.

Last played by Ball shortly before his death in 1917, it has been preserved by his family and was recently seen in an exhibition mounted in The Museum of the Mercian Regiment at Nottingham Castle to mark the centenary of his death.

But later this year, more than 100 years since he last played it at his airfield hut in France, the Ball violin is to be heard again, at a 1918 Armistice anniversary concert on November 4 at the Royal Concert Hall, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The violin has been restored to playable condition by John Gosling of Chapel Violins in Newark and will be played by Braimah Kanneh-Mason, currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music, who is the brother of renowned cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason.

He will be accompanied on the piano by his sister Jeneba, a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2018.


The 1918 Armistice concert is part of the renowned Nottingham Harmonic Choir’s 163rd annual season.

The concert will start with Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. Dvorak’s Humoresque will follow, played on Albert Ball’s violin, which was Albert’s party piece and often played at squadron concerts.

The main work will be Britten’s War Requiem, performed by the Nottingham Harmonic Choir accompanied by the London Orchestra da Camera as a tribute to all those service and non-military personnel who perished during the First World War.

The concert is supported and sponsored by the Royal British Legion and both Nottingham city and county councils.

Albert Ball had claimed 44 victories, making him the Royal Flying Corps’ leading air ace, when he crashed and died in May 1917 near the village of Annouellin in northern France.

He was buried in the local cemetery where his bravery is honoured, including the naming of a school in his memory. In Nottingham a ceremony is held annually on the anniversary of his death at the Albert Ball statue in the grounds of Nottingham Castle.

Aged only 20, he was the holder of the Distinguished Service Order with two bars, Military Cross, and was a Freeman of Nottingham. He was later awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Albert Ball’s great niece, Vanda Day, 58, who lives in the Leicestershire village of Hose, said: “&aposIt will be a very emotional experience to hear Albert&aposs violin being played after 101 years of silence. Albert still being remembered after all this time is very moving for the family.”

ALBERT BALLIN – Inventor and father of the pleasure cruise.

SS Albert Ballin was an ocean liner of the Hamburg-America Line launched in 1923 and named after Albert Ballin, visionary director of the line who had killed himself in despair several years earlier after the Kaiser’s abdication and Germany’s defeat in WW 2. In 1935 the new Nazi government ordered the ship renamed to Hansa (Ballin having been Jewish).

Albert Ballin – Inventor of the pleasure cruise and ship operator for the Kaiser

The German shipping magnate Albert Ballin was responsible for turning Germany into a world leader in ocean travel prior to World War I. It was Ballin who also invented the pleasure cruise in 1891.

(Left: Albert Ballin)Born in Hamburg on 15 August 1857, Albert Ballin was destined to become a pioneer in making ocean travel a more pleasant, even luxurious experience. As a Jew, for most of his life he would walk a fine line between social acceptance and scorn. But the “Kaiser’s Jew” long enjoyed financial and political prominence before falling out of favor and being branded a traitor to Germany as the First World War and his own life drew to their bitter end in 1918. Born in a poor section of Hamburg, Ballin (pronounced BALL-EEN) had achieved greatness and strongly influenced the passenger ship industry by the time he took his own life at the age of 61.

A decade before Albert Ballin’s birth, the company he would later head, the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag) had been founded on 27 May 1847, with the goal of operating a faster, more reliable liner service between Hamburg and North America, using the finest sailing ships. At that time a “fast” east-to-west Atlantic crossing took about 40 sailing days. The return voyage, with favorable west winds, required “only” 28 days.

(LEFT: This German postage stamp was issued in 1957 for the 100th anniversary of Albert Ballin’s birth in Hamburg.) A “packet ship” gets its name from the time when ships were employed to carry mail packets to and from British embassies, colonies and outposts. The term “packet service” later came to mean any regular, scheduled service, carrying freight and passengers – such as the Hamburg-American Packet Company (Hapag).

Nevertheless, there was stiff competition for passengers on the North Altlantic route. Internationally, shipping lines in Britain and Prussia (after 1871) fought to attract passengers, but there was also competition within Germany itself between the port cities of Bremen (Bremerhaven) and Hamburg. In 1856 Hapag, under its first director, Adolph Godeffroy, put its first steamship, the Borussia, into service, becoming the first German shipping firm to do so. As time went by, coal-powered steamships would cut the travel time between Hamburg and New York down to just six or seven days.

From Morris & Co. to Hapag

Albert Ballin got his start in Hamburg at the age of 17 when his father died in 1874 and he took over the family’s ship passenger booking service, known as Morris & Co. At first he shared that job with his older brother, but when Joseph left to become a stockbroker in 1877, Albert became the sole operator and soon turned the slumbering operation into a thriving enterprise that eventually drew the attention of the major shipping lines.

BallinStadt: “BallinCity” was the name given to the complex that Hapag built in 1907 to better house and protect impoverished emigrants before their voyage to the New World aboard its ships (in steerage). But Albert Ballin also had very practical motives for his generosity.

In 1881 Ballin teamed up with shipowner Edward Carr to get more directly involved in the passenger trade – and avoid sharing fees with other shipping firms. By 1886, Carr and his partner, cousin Robert M. Sloman, had a fleet of five ships in their Union Line. They cut costs by using converted freighters that offered no luxury but far more space for passengers in steerage class. Working with Ballin, they began to drive down the price of a North Atlantic crossing and put pressure on the larger shipping lines.

Soon the cost of a ticket for an Atlantic voyage in steerage had fallen to just six dollars. Hapag and the other major lines were now losing money in an ongoing rate war. In 1886 a shareholders’ revolt led to a major shakeup at Hapag that resulted in Ballin being hired to head the company’s passenger division. Only two years later, Ballin was made a member of the Hapag board of directors.

The Augusta Viktoria had her maiden voyage for Hapag in 1889. Two years later she embarked on the world’s very first Med cruise (in January 1891).

From Steerage to Luxury

Although Albert Ballin came from a humble backgound and had achieved his initial success by catering to steerage passengers (Zwischendeckpassagiere), the next stage of his business rise would come from his revolutionary view that a sea voyage should be more a pleasure cruise than a test of one’s endurance. While his competitors became obsessed with speed and winning Blue Ribands for the shortest Atlantic crossing times, Ballin used luxurious accommodations to attract a wealthier clientele. In the process, he would also invent the sea cruise.

The Prinzessin Viktoria Luise was the world’s first ship built specifically for pleasure cruising. Named for Kaiser Wilhelm’s daughter, the 407-foot-long vessel – here seen on a Hamburg-Amerika postcard – was launched on June 29, 1900.

Having enjoyed his stays in luxury hotels in Paris, London and elsewhere, Ballin sought to recreate a similar atmosphere aboard Hapag’s ships. Although his luxury liners still had space for low-cost steerage passengers, the upper decks were designed to rival the palatial homes and hotels that more aristocratic, wealthy passengers were accustomed to.

Ballin was also a pioneer in the technical realm. Hapag was the first German line to put twin-screw ships into service – at a time when the technology was still considered unproven. This gave Hapag’s ships not only more speed but better stability and safety. When its Bremen competitor NDL failed to do the same, Hapag had a distinct advantage for many years.

Ballin Invents the Pleasure Cruise

The world’s first pleasure cruise departed Cuxhaven, Germany on 22 January 1891. Aboard the luxury steamship Augusta Victoria were 241 passengers, including cruise host Albert Ballin and his wife Marianne. This first-ever “Med cruise” lasted 57 days, 11 hours and three minutes. Ballin’s guests enjoyed first-class cabins. There was also first-class cuisine to match and a daily newspaper printed on board. The cruise called at over a dozen ports, complete with shore excursions, beginning with Southampton, then sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean ports of call included Genoa, Alexandria, Jaffa, Beirut, Constantinople (now Instanbul), Athens, Malta, Naples and Lisbon. When the Augusta Victoria returned home after its two-month voyage, the cruise was judged a great success. Every year since then (except for periods of war), Hapag and other lines have offered similar cruises. Such ocean cruises to exotic places are considered normal today, but that was a pioneering idea in 1891.

The Augusta Viktoria

Augusta Viktoria: This Hapag steamship had her maiden voyage on 10 May 1889 when she sailed from Hamburg to New York via Southampton. Two years later, she went on the world’s first Med cruise. Named for Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife, the empress (Kaiserin) Auguste Viktoria, the ship bore its misspelled name (with an a rather than the correct e ending) for most of its life. Not until the ship was remodeled in 1897 did she get her name fixed. In 1904 she was sold to the Russian navy and renamed the Kuban.

Passengers aboard the Augusta Viktoria – sailing from Germany to New York.

The first Med cruise came about as a solution to a problem. Because weather conditions in the North Atlantic in winter kept passenger traffic very low and left most of Hapag’s passenger fleet idle, Ballin sought a remedy for this costly downtime. When he first brought up the Med cruise idea in 1890, everyone at Hapag thought he had lost his mind. Who would want to go on a cruise just to cruise? At the time, a steamship, even a nice one, was considered merely a way to get from point A to point B. Ballin played a major role in creating a new market for people who had the time and money to enjoy a luxury cruise to exotic parts of the world.

Today’s mass-market cruise industry got its start in the 19th century by catering to the well-to-do. After the 1960s, when jet travel became more common, the shipping industry would depend almost exclusively on pleasure cruises for its passenger traffic.

The Amerika – liner under Ballin’s leadership at Hapag.

Ballin’s Beginnings

Ballin’s Jewish father had immigrated to Germany from Denmark. His mother, Amalia, came from an Altona (Hamburg) family headed by her rabbi father. In Hamburg, his father, Samuel Joel (later Joseph) Ballin (1804-1874) had several different low-paying occupations before he began running a modest emigrant passenger booking agency, partly financed by his second wife. (Joseph Ballin had 17 children with two wives!) Although both his parents were Jewish, Albert’s family does not seem to have been particularly religious.

Albert received only a basic education and did not graduate from high school. He was born and grew up in a poor section next to Hamburg’s old harbor, speaking the local “Hafenplatt” dialect and High German. But he was very intelligent and also learned English – which he later perfected during business trips to England. He never spoke his father’s native Danish.

Ballin and the Kaiser

(Left: Ballin greeting the Kaiser.) As a Jew in Hamburg and German society, Ballin was subject to the anti-Semitic prejudices of the time. However, because of his important position with Hapag, not even Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) could ignore him. In fact, he often met with the Jewish shipowner to discuss the political and financial aspects of Germany’s seafaring industry. The Kaiser was such a frequent guest at Ballin’s Hamburg villa, that it was known a bit scornfully as “Klein Potsdam” or “Little Potsdam.” (Potsdam being the site of the Prussian royal palaces, just south of Berlin.)

Some sources claim that Ballin was the only non-converted Jew with whom the Kaiser had a personal relationship. Although they were never close friends, they had a cordial relationship, even though it was hardly a secret that the emperor and empress had a low regard for Jews. Unlike the emperor, the empress (Kaiserin) refused to set foot in Ballin’s home. But over the years Ballin often had the Kaiser’s ear, and it was not until the “Kaiser’s Jew” vigorously opposed the war, that he lost all favor with Wilhelm.

We can gain a better understanding of Ballin’s attitude about his position as a Jew in Hamburg from this biographical excerpt:

“…[Hamburg] has had a lack of capable people, at least at times. The repeated observance of this fact and finding that the citizens of Hamburg frequently lacked what Bismarck, in speaking of Germans in general, called the missing “dash of champagne in the blood” once caused Ballin to remark: “I see quite clearly what this city lacks this city lacks 10,000 Jews. I do not, by any means, shut my eyes to the unpleasant traits of the Jews, but I still must say that for Hamburg’s development 10,000 more of them would be a blessing.” [This comment is] further testimony of Ballin’s unprejudiced point of view concerning the Jews. Although not at all orthodox, but rather indifferent in his religious views, he was much too proud to deny his heritage or his religion, or to change [his faith], much less “improve” his name. Of someone who had done so, he said, with bitter scorn: “He insults his father.”

– From Albert Ballin by Bernhard Huldermann.

Huldermann was the head of the Hamburg-Amerika Linie when he wrote this book a few years after Ballin’s death “in memory of Albert Ballin in loyal admiration and heartfelt gratitude” (in the book’s dedication). Although the book seems to be accurate, his account of Ballin’s life and accomplishments must therefore be taken with a grain of salt. The author concentrates more on the shipping business and barely mentions Ballin’s wife or daughter, and even then not once by name. “

Mixed Marriage

Although he never forgot that he was a Jew, Ballin was also accepting enough of the majority Christian religion that he married a blond Protestant woman in a Christian church service in 1883. Marianne Rauchert came from a prominent Hamburg family. As a child, she had even once shared a vacation beach with Prussia’s future Kaiser Wilhelm.

Although Ballin’s marriage to Marianne may have helped him socially, the marriage seems to have been one out of love. The two were never able to have children, but they adopted a daughter.

Before his own suicide in 1918, Albert Ballin’s older brother, Joseph, had taken his own life rather dramatically almost exactly 11 years earlier. The New York Times and other American newspapers carried the story, dated November 13, 1907: “J. Ballin, a stockbroker and a brother of Albert Ballin, …committed suicide with a revolver this afternoon in a lavatory at the local Bourse [in Hamburg].” No reason was known.

Nor do we know exactly why Albert Ballin ended his own life. But a combination of factors came together in 1918 that probably overwhelmed the shipping magnate. A war he had been against from the start was coming to a very bad end for Germany. The Kaiser, who had once been his confidant, refused to speak to him anymore and was about to abdicate his throne. Ballin was now considered a pacifist traitor by his government and many Germans. The war had destroyed Hapag, and it would be years before it could even partially recover.

If he could have seen 15 years into the future, when the Nazis came into power in 1932, he would have been even more depressed. As a Jew, he would have faced a very uncertain fate. Even in death, the Nazis tried to erase his name by changing the name of anything that had “Ballin” on it, including a ship and a street. It would be 1947 before his name would be restored in Germany.

Even without knowing that, the 61-year-old Ballin probably decided that his life’s work had come to nothing. For whatever reason, on the night of 9 November 1918 he took an overdose of sleeping pills, went to bed and never woke up.

Although Ballin’s death went largely unreported in Germany, it made headlines in the foreign press. However, the cause of death was reported as an “apoplectic stroke,” probably a cover story put out by Hapag to protect Ballin’s family.

“Mein Feld ist die Welt”

Albert Ballin’s and Hapag’s slogan was “Mein Feld ist die Welt” – which roughly translates as “The world is my oyster.” Although it may have colonialist or imperialist overtones, the saying truly reflected the worldwide coverage that the Hamburg-Amerika Linie had at its peak under Ballin. In the year before the First World War broke out, Hapag had 73 shipping routes between ports and countries all over the globe and a fleet of 175 steamships, including the three largest ocean liners in the world at that time.

With 25,000 employees, Hapag was the largest shipping line in the world for both freight and people (464,000 passengers in 1913).

Ballin Timeline

An Albert Ballin and Hapag Chronology

The Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag) is founded on May 27 in Hamburg. It will be better known as the Hamburg-America Line.

Hapag’s first steamship, the Borussia, arrives with great fanfare in Hamburg on April 4. She transports the mail and 510 passengers in record time on her maiden voyage to New York.

In February the Norddeutscher-Lloyd (NDL, North German Lloyd) shipping company is founded in Bremen, Germany.

Albert Ballin is born on August 15 in Hamburg, Germany.

Hapag’s two new steamships, the Hammonia and the Cimbria, enter service. They can cross the Atlantic in 10 days.

Following the Franco-Prussian War, the unified German Empire is proclaimed. The King of Prussia is crowned Emperor (Kaiser) of Germany. Hapag now has 14 steamships, while NDL owns 16 transatlantic steamers and transports over 40,000 people to the New World this year.

After the sudden death of his father, Albert Ballin takes over his small emigration agency in Hamburg. Under the young man’s leadership the agency begins to flourish.

Ballin works with a shipowner to offer unbeatably low rates for passage to New York. A long, destructive rate war follows.

The Jewish Ballin marries the Christian Marianne Rauert in a Protestant church ceremony.

The cheapest passage across the Atlantic now costs just six dollars. Hapag is suffering.

After a shareholders’ revolt and the resignation of the entire Hapag board, the 29-year-old Ballin is hired as head of Hapag’s passenger division.

Ballin becomes a member of the Hapag board of directors.

Hapag’s first luxury steamer, the Augusta Viktoria, named for Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife, Empress Auguste Viktoria, embarks on her maiden voyage. She sets a new record for the Southampton-to-New York crossing: seven days.

In an effort to avoid having his ships idle during the winter, Ballin sends the flagship Augusta Victoria on a Mediterranean cruise in January. His colleagues think he’s crazy. The cruise, with Ballin himself as host, is a great success – and is the birth of the modern pleasure cruise.

Prompted by the economic consequences of a serious cholera outbreak in Hamburg, Hapag diversifies by concentrating more on freight and not just passengers.

Hapag moves its emigration facilities to Veddel Island in the Elbe River. BallinStadt will house poor emigrants before they embark for the New World.

Dec. 17: Orville Wright pilots the first powered airplane 20 feet above a beach at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The aviation era begins.

Under Ballin’s leadership, Hapag withdraws from the Atlantic-crossing speed contest, emphasizing comfort over speed. The line’s new flagship Amerika is not only more economical to operate, it also offers a new cheap third-class with better accommodations than steerage for only slightly more money. The ship will become the USS America after being seized when the US enters the war in 1917.

Due to increasing traffic, the BallinStadt facilities are expanded and improved.

Nov. 13: Albert’s brother, Joseph, kills himself with a revolver in a restroom at the Hamburg stock exchange.

Albert Ballin begins building a prestigious family villa at No. 58 Feldbrunnenstraße in Hamburg.

The Austrian astronomer Johann Palisa discovers an asteroid he names Hapag. Lost for decades, (724) Hapag was rediscovered in 1988 by Japanese observers.

April 14: The S.S. Titanic sinks after striking an iceberg. Earlier, the Hapag ship Amerika had sent a warning to the White Star Line’s Titanic about icebergs.

The Austrian crown prince Archduke Franz Ferdinand is assassinated in Sarajevo on 28 June. Ballin travels to Berlin and London, trying to convince politicians of the folly of war, but the First World War begins in August.

The US enters the war. Hapag’s Vaterland is confiscated in New York and becomes the US troop transport Leviathan.

Nov. 9: On the same day the German Kaiser abdicates, Albert Ballin takes his own life with an overdose of sleeping pills. Two days later the Armistice ends the First World War. Foreign newspapers report he died of an “apoplectic stroke.” His death goes largely unreported in the German press.

Hapag and Norddeutscher Lloyd merge to form today’s Hapag-Lloyd shipping line.

Albert Ball - History

Royal Aircraft Factory SE5 of Albert Ball

Royal Aircraft Factory SE5 of the 56th Squadron of the RFC (Royal Flying Corps), piloted by Captain Albert Ball, in France, the 7th May 1917.

Engine[s]: Hispano-Suiza of 150 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 192 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 5180 meters.

Armament: One Vickers 0.303-inch machine gun.

Born in Nottingham the 14th August 1896, Albert Ball occupied a prominent place in the affections of British public similar to that of Max Immelmann in Germany. His philosophy of combat, which usually involved fighting in solitary against the enemy, had a great attractiveness for the civil observer, for whom the subtleties of air combat were like a closed book. He was still a boy when, being enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters, the First World War started. He earned his Pilot Wings the 22nd January 1916. Destined to the Royal Flying Corps, the 15th February 1916 he was incorporated to the 13th Squadron in France. In May of the same year he was transferred to the 11th Squadron, where he was assigned a Nieuport fighter, an airplane of which he became enthusiastic.

The first successes of Ball in combat took place the 22nd May, when he claimed the destruction of an Albatros D I and the downing of another German aircraft, albeit none of these victories was confirmed. He had another non demonstrated combat the 1st June, when he downed two German fighters which tried to intercept him. He received the Military Cross the 27th June, the day after having destroyed an enemy balloon.

In August 1916 he was transferred to the 60th Squadron, where he had another Nieuport and continued with permission to patrol and fight in solitary. Apparently oblivious to the discrepancies against his ways, he attacked alone enemy formations by unleashing bursts of fire at point-blank range. His habitual tactic was to fall in a dive until placing himself under the enemy airplane, to fire at it in an almost vertical position with his weapon mounted in the upper wing. He was decorated with the Distinguished Service Order, with one bar, the 26th September, and received a second bar the 25th November. When leaving France the 4th October, Ball had accredited to him victories over ten German airplanes, including four Roland and two Albatros fighters.

In England, after an instruction period, he was destined to the 56th Squadron, which was transferred to France the 7th April 1917. This unit was equipped with the SE5, an airplane of which Ball was never enthusiastic. Of course, he continued with authorization to fly his beloved Niewport during some time, but he reconciled with the SE5 after seeing that his record of victories continued increasing with that aircraft. When he was still in England, in London Colney (Hertfordshire), Ball "acquired" the SE5 marked as A'4850, which he modified. The Vickers machine gun was removed, the windshield was lowered and by means of other modifications the pilot could sit in a lower position all of this allowed to increase the speed somewhat. But despite of all Ball wrote: "The SE5 has turned out to be a failure. It is a rotten airplane."

The 6th May 1917 Ball effectuated his last sortie flying a Nieuport and achieved his last victory, an Albatros from the Jasta 20 which he destroyed near Sancourt. The following afternoon he took place on his SE5 number A'4850, and engaged in combat with a German fighter near Lens. During the fray he was seen diving into a cloud, and the Germans later found his body, which had no signs of shots, and his aircraft destroyed. Albeit his downing was attributed to Lothar von Richthofen, this one denied it, stating that his victim was a triplane.

Ball died at the age of twenty years and nine months, and posthumously received the Victoria Cross the 3rd June 1917. His official record of 44 enemy aircraft downed places him in the eleventh place on the list of best British and Commonwealth combat pilots of the First World War.

Watch the video: Albert Ball Famous Pilots Video