An agile, swift centerfielder, Cramer led the AL in putouts in 1936 and 1938. He was considered to be one of the best judges of fly balls in the ML, and also owned an excellent arm. Offensively, he was a leadoff hitter who specialized in singles, topping the AL five times and tying for the lead in total hits (200) in 1940. Twice, he collected six hits in a game. In his career, he had 2,705 hits. He led the league in at-bats in seven different seasons, the ML record. At age 40, he was a hitting star for the Tigers in the 1945 WS, batting .379, scoring seven runs, and batting in four. Later, as a White Sox coach, he was credited with developing Nellie Fox as a hitter.
Cramer was a semi-pro pitcher when discovered by Cy Perkins and signed by the Athletics. Sent to Martinsburg of the Blue Ridge League in 1929, he was locked in a close race with Joe Vosmik for the league batting title. On the final day of the season, he pitched against Vosmik’s team and walked his rival four times. Cramer’s .404 won the title.
Cramer tied a ML record by going 6-for-6 in a nine-inning game, and is the only American Leaguer to do it twice (6/20/32 and 7/13/35). Towards the end of his career, he was frequently used as a pinch-hitter, and led the AL with nine pinch hits in 1947. Sent up six times for Birdie Tebbetts, Cramer came through four times, and when the Tigers traded Tebbetts to Boston, Cramer complained, “It’s like tearing up my meal ticket. A game is not official until the announcement goes out ‘Cramer for Tebbetts’.”
Cramer gained medical knowledge before playing pro ball by observing a local doctor, and was therefore dubbed “Doc.” Philadelphia sportswriter Jimmy Isaminger began calling him “Flit”, after the insecticide, because the outfielder was death to fly balls.