Kramer died in 1966 at 86, the retired police chief of East Orange, N.J. He had never been inducted into a hall of fame. He had never served as the commissioner of a multimillion-dollar sports league. But he did hold the unique distinction of having dominated one of America's most popular professional sports for 27 years. And he was one of the first Americans to live the life of a totally dedicated professional athlete.
Perhaps that's why the The New York Times of July 31, 1922 proclaimed Kramer's record as "one of amazing endurance and stamina, not to mention success...one of the most marvelous in athletic history."
And perhaps that's why the tears flowed freely on Kramer's farewell night at the Newark Velodrome and why the band repeatedly struck up Auld Lang Syne and The Star-Spangled Banner after Kramer climbed off his bike for good.
"I'm only sorry," said the graying champion in a typically brief statement, "that I'm not 15 years younger so that I might continue to entertain you. However, I have no alternative and must bow to Father Time."