Don Budge def. Gottfried Von Cramm, 1937 Davis Cup

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by chaognosis, Feb 6, 2007.

  1. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    http://www.authentichistory.com/1930s/sports/1937_Don_Budge_on_Davis_Cup_SF_Win_Over_Von_Cramm.html

    I found this site today, which has some nice background information and a few pictures of the match many tennis experts consider the greatest of all time. Most remarkably, there is an audio clip of Budge's comments following the match, where the American describes his opponent's phone call from Hitler and his own heroic comeback in the fifth set. Definitely worth a look, especially if you aren't already familiar with this great moment in tennis history.
     
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  2. znoopie

    znoopie Rookie

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    Question: why didn't Von Cramm put the second ball in his pocket? 30's trend?
     
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  3. Yours!05

    Yours!05 Professional

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    Wonderful thanks, as is the site.
     
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  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Sadly, i can't get the side. Von Cramm has always denied, that he got a phone call by Hitler before the match. Its often said, that the loss to Budge changed his fortunes with the Third Reich, as it was indeed the case with Schmeling, when he lost to Louis in 1938. But the reason for the banning of von Cramm in 1938 - he would be favorite at Paris - was a relationship with a Jewish actor, whom he helped to get out of Germany. Von Cramm was a strong opponent of Hitler and a homosexual and a friend of Jews, that was too much. He was discredited and imprisoned, later sent to the Russian front to die there. He returned wounded, a fled to his friend the King of Sweden.
     
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  5. Yours!05

    Yours!05 Professional

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    Excerpt

    Background:
    Don Budge's comments after beating Baron Gottfried von Cramm 6-8, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 8-6 in the deciding match of the 1937 Davis Cup tennis semi-final between the United States and **** Germany. Von Cramm received a phone call from Hitler minutes before the match started, and, as Budge would later say, "came out pale and serious and played as if his life depended on every point." Von Cramm lost. In 1938 he was imprisoned by the Gestapo.

    Transcript:
    As Cramm and I were leaving the locker room, the telephone rang and Cramm was called back, and it was Hitler calling him to wish him good luck, in this particular match. Of course it was quite exciting because the fellow who had charge of getting the players out on the court on time had both of us by the arm, he wouldn't Cramm go, and Cram was saying, "Yes Mein Fuehrer," this and that, and it got to be quite a tense moment. However, we finally did get out on the court. And I managed to win the 3rd and 4th, and right away I was down 4-1 in the 5th set. I decided I had to get the net position away from him in the worst way. So with this in mind I made up my mind I would try to return his serve and go in behind it. Well as luck had it I did manage to get my returns in, get in to the net and make some winning volleys. I broke his serve and from there on it went to 6-all. Finally at 7-6 I broke his serve, and after 6 match points, finally won the thing, after a great struggle--falling down on the ground on my last point--but making the shot nonetheless. But as we shook hands at the net, I'll never forget what Cram said, he said, "Don," he said, "I'm very happy that I played so well against you, whom I like so much, and it was the best tennis I've every played in my life, so congratulations to the best man on this particular occasion.
     
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  6. Jet Rink

    Jet Rink Semi-Pro

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    Yours! - thanks for posting the transcript. I haven't gone to Gnosis' site link yet.

    Budge is a really fascinating tactician who's influence made it into the "modern" game as well. I recall a story in Mac's autobio where, when he was in a losing streak vs. Lendl, it was Budge who gave him the key to unlock Lendl's game.

    Jet
     
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  7. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    There was a story in Tennis Magazine some years ago. I think it was written by Fred Perry or Don Budge. It was about Von Cramm. It described him as a real gentleman. There was a story about Von Cramm playing at Wimbledon. He got a bad line call. His opponent tanked the next point to even things out. He received a semi-lecture from Von Cramm. Von Cramm said that while he appreciated the thought, he really should think twice before embarassing the man calling lines.

    Von Cramm was also described as a very tragic figure. He was in a great many close and hard fought matches, but always seemed to come out 2nd. Hitler did punish him and sent him to the Eastern front ostensibly to get him killed.

    The author of the article called Von Cramm the "unluckiest man I ever knew".
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2007
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  8. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    I think the idea is not that Cramm was imprisoned because of his loss, but rather that it would have been more difficult for Hitler to have imprisoned Cramm if he had brought the Davis Cup to Germany. As you know, DC was considered much more prestigious then than it is now, perhaps even the highest prize in tennis, and a German victory spearheaded by Cramm could have been a valuable symbol for Hitler of national (and racial) superiority. It seems much more likely that Cramm's "transgressions" would have been covered up under those circumstances, rather than the man himself being locked away.
     
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  9. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    http://www.tennisplayer.net/public/champions/Ed_Atkinson_Don_Budge_samplearticle.html

    Also for those interested, a short clip of Budge's famous backhand. Sad to think so many out there believe these "old timers" couldn't hit the ball as well as any of today's stars. Gonzales, shortly before his death, stated that Budge's was still the best backhand ever developed--and Gonzales played extensively against the man with probably the second best, Rosewall.
     
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  10. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    The thing is, von Cramm began to get to the level of Budge, when he was banned and imprisoned. He beat Budge in a team match Europe-USA in Australia in the winter of 1938, in a match described by Adrian Quist and others as better than the famous DC match, which was actually a semifinal, not a DC final. Hitler was not a tennis fan, he liked boxing and track and fields, i think the phone call is a myth, as commented by von Cramm himself and Kleinschroth, the German team captain. Von Cramm was on his aristocratic backround a long time opponent to the regime, and a collaboration with Jewish people could result in the death penalty at least since 1938.He was indeed a somewhat tragic figure, who seemed always on the run, even after the war. He was killed in a road accident on the way to Kairo.
     
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  11. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    I see your points, having wondered about the phone call myself in the past, and would previously have agreed with you (and Cramm) that the phone call was legend, not fact. However, I wasn't aware that this audio recording existed, where Budge, after the match, describes the phone call in some detail. I find it unlikely that Budge would simply invent, so quickly, this tale about Cramm being held by the arm, and the tension of the situation. As in textual criticism, it is important to try to determine which source is more trustworthy. This artifact, at least, is earlier, which gives it more credibility. I also find it less likely that Budge would tell such a colorful lie, just to "spice up" the drama of the match, whereas Cramm and the German team would later have a better reason to dismiss it, as they were probably embarrassed by an association with the Third Reich. I believe that if a scholarly committee assembled to debate all the evidence, they would decide that the phone call probably happened.
     
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  12. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    WTF?!?! Where's the SPOILER TAG?!?!?!
    You people continue to amaze me. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, before positng match results like that, PLEASE make sure you are in the right sub-forum! Goshsh!!


    Kidding. Thanks for posting that. Tennis has such an intricate history. SO much to learn. I love this game.

    Okay, back to wondering about Federer's paintjob, how many crunches Nadal does and whether Murray and Gilbert actually hang out in the evenings.
     
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  13. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Sad, but true.

    Well, Davis Cup is still paramount ... in certain circles. I go to as many ties as possible, especially here in the US. I dream of the day the US and A plays in a final again. I missed that one in Spain a few years ago, but I'm going to the next one. I'd be tempted to go to Spain and Switzerland if you-know-who were playing. For me, it's the one strike against Roger's legacy.
     
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  14. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    It was a trend until the 70's.
     
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  15. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    Don Budge made the point in an interview that he liked to crowd the baseline and hit the ball on the rise as much as possible, unlike his contemporaries.

    Another thing to consider is that Don Budge was taller and stronger than most players of his era and physically would be a match for a lot of the modern players. I would guess that he was Federer's size. Budge was pretty modest about his tennis game although he did say that one of his secrets was that he was much faster than any of his opponents.
     
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  16. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for your comments. I am surprised Budge would say that he was "much faster than any of his opponents," as Fred Perry is often considered the fastest player in the history of the sport. Budge's ability to take the ball on the rise was supposedly modelled after Perry's early-ball technique, which he perfected in early 1937. Still, Perry's speed was his most noted strength (along with his running forehand), while Budge had lots of qualities that merited attention: backhand, forehand, serve, overhead, swinging volley, etc. It seems entirely possible that Budge's speed may have been overlooked because it was eclipsed by so many other elements of the Budge game. A somewhat opposing view, however, was expressed by Julius Heldman in 1971, who wrote that Budge did not have to move much, but rather, because he hit the ball so consistently hard off both wings, it was his opponent who did most of the running.
     
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  17. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    Don Budge's speed was deceptive because he moved so smoothly. He told a story (which Bobby Riggs confirmed) of how he won money from Riggs by whipping him in a foot race.

    I think he was one of the few pre-WW II athletes that could have competed with today's bigger and stronger athletes and not be at a physical disadvantage.
     
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  18. Tomaz Bellucci

    Tomaz Bellucci Rookie

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    Wonderful post, oldy but really nice.

    urban has made some comments in other threads, maybe Carlo, Brett,or somebody can add some posts about it.

    Thanks.
     
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  19. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    this find does meet the burden.I think there are good reasons to pretend the call did not happen. Budge sure isn't lying, and I can't see how there could be a misunderstanding about who was on the other end, considering what Budge heard.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
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  20. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    There's a new book out about this match, it's called "A Terrible Splendor" I just started it, interesting side note, Bill Tilden was helping to coach the German side at this match as the U.S. powers that be didn't want anything to do with him by that time...

    Edit: The Author is Marshall Jon Fisher.
     
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  21. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    Gottfried von Cramm denied the Hitler phone call, but Budge always said that he did get the call from Hitler - who else would von Cramm have called "Mein Fuhrer"??? No one. I for one have always thought that the story was true because Budge was there and he would know.


    Budge was good friends with von Cramm and gathered a lot of high profile signatures in protest to the imprisonment and sent them to Hitler and von Cramm was then released on parole.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2009
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  22. DonBudge

    DonBudge New User

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    Thanks for this reading.
     
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  23. MAX PLY

    MAX PLY Hall of Fame

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    I do reccomend A Terrible Splendor. It is a pretty good read. Most of the items about Tilden come out of the Frank Deford-authored bio. The items regrarding Budge, von Cramm and the surrounding history are very interesting.
     
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  24. Wondertoy

    Wondertoy Professional

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    Von Cramm probably would have stopped Budge from winning the grand Slam as he went toe-to-toe against Budge and lost to him at the Davis Cup 8-6 in the 5th. He had beaten Budge a few times in the US and Australia in the months preceding the French. He was also a 2 time winner of the French Open, red clay being his favorite surface. When he was released from jail, he was not allowed to play Wimbledon as the Germans didn't appoint him and the Wimbledon committee wouldn't allow him to play without a country sponsor. However he did beat Bobby Riggs at Queens Club 6-1,6-1 preceding Wimbledon which Riggs won. Tragic story as told in "A Terrible Spendor," a well written book that not only tells us about tennis but the backdrop of the terrible development of N@zi Germany.
     
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  25. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

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    Will try to get it.

    Amazon?
     
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  26. Clintspin

    Clintspin Semi-Pro

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    A Terrible Splendor is a terrific book. You learn a lot about little details of tennis in the book. Leather grips were fairly new at the time. Racquets were made without a grip, with a smooth wood handle. Budge preferred no leather and thought it was just a way for the racquet companies to make another $1.00. Lots of interesting details like that in the book. The book also shows how much money the pros were making in those days and how they were such big stars the world over. Another great book about that era is the Alice Marble story, Courting Danger.
     
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  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The page referred to in the OP (in 2007) has been updated.

    The page is now here, with Budge's interview (now dated to "around 1970"):

    http://www.authentichistory.com/193...on_Davis_Cup_SF_Win_Over_Von_Cramm_c1970.html

    And there is a new comment:

     
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  28. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It's always interesting to hear comments of a former great.

    Budge due to whatever reasons always seemed to me to be a poor conveyer of information. Who knows if it was Hitler who called von Cramm or not but the old joke fits here, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."
     
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