Ron Kramer 1956
(Authentic Reproduction)



A bona fide hometown hero, Ron Kramer traveled the short distance from Detroit to Ann Arbor, MI to continue what had been a superb high school athletic career. He earned nine varsity letters at Michigan as a stalwart of the football, basketball, and track squads. There was little Kramer could not excel at on the football field. When sportswriters asked head coach Bennie Oosterbaan a series of questions prior to Kramer's senior year, the responses could have been scripted. "Who will do the punting?",was the question and the reply was "Kramer of course", citing the end's stats from the year before when he led the nation as a sophomore. When asked "Who will do the place kicking?", Oosterbaan again cited Kramer's numbers and stated, "Kramer will do that." When then asked who would handle the kickoffs, the head coach stated, "Kramer, he did a pretty good job of that before." This could have been the response to any question from "Who will get the ball in the most critical situations?" and "Who is your best defensive player?" In short, Ron Kramer was the type of all-around football star that has not been on the gridiron in generations and thus his ability and versatility are rarely appreciated. He played healthy or hurt and he always played well. In an era of very limited passing offenses Kramer caught 54 passes for 888 yards and scored 102 points, very big numbers for the day. At 6'3", 225-pounds, no opponent could take the field without accounting for his every move on either side of the ball. A two-time All American selection in both 1955 and '56, he has also been voted to the All Time Big Ten team and Michigan's All Time team. He was the number one draft choice of the Packers in 1957 and an integral component of Lombardi's great teams until concluding his pro career with the hometown Lions in 1968. Kramer was among the first tight ends who could block like a tackle but who also had great receiving and running skills, opening the door for Mike Ditka and John Mackey. Kramer was elected to the College Football Hall Of Fame.

In 1956, it was again Ron Kramer and Company with HB Terry Barr a fine adjunctive weapon to Kramer's all around abilities. The new-look Wolverines had added face masks to their helmets for the first time and identified the players with two-inch Green Bay gold numerals on each side of the winged and striped navy blue helmet. 1956 was noted as "The Year Of The Experiment" at Michigan in a number of national publications as Oosterbaan concluded '56 spring practice with his All American end planted at the halfback position. Desperate for more punch in the backfield Kramer joined future Lion star Terry Barr who was better known as a force on defense, certainly the best DB in the Big Ten. When the season opened however, the mix of Single Wing and T-Formation play again featured the great Kramer at end as soph FB John Herrnstein proved more than adequate when pounding the ball. Illinois and Ohio State were defeated but Oosterbaan's inconsistency showed again as Michigan State pulled off a 9-0 upset in front of 100,000 fans and they dropped an unexpected game to Minnesota. The final tally was 7-2 and no bowl bid. Guard Dick Hill was the Michigan MVP and Kramer again was on every All American team. Grand Rapids native Barr took his wares to the Detroit Lions for a productive nine year career. The promise of the great sophomore class of 1954 had brought no championships and no bowl games to Ann Arbor.

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