Born in New Jersey in 1883, Eller was a second-generation German-American. He served with the New York City Police department from 1905 to 1941, and for many years was the champion hurdler of the Irish-American Athletic Club.
Eller began his athletic career at the age of seventeen, as an oarsman for the Metropolitan Rowing Club. At age 18, Eller joined the National Guard, and began his track career as a member of the Seventy First Regiment, competing in the games of the Military Athletic League.
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Eller held the Amateur Athletic Union championship title in the 220-yard hurdles in 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911 and 1912. He won the Amateur Athletic Union indoor hurdle championships in 1911 and 1916 and he competed as a member of the U.S. Olympic team in the 1912 Summer Olympics in the 110 meter hurdles and the Pentathlon. Eller won a career total of 43 metropolitan, national and international championships in sprinting and hurdling.
According to his 1910 Mecca Cigarettes trading card, Eller was known as the ‘King of the Hurdlers.’ “In 1908, Eller won the 150- yard, 200-yard and 220-yard hurdle indoor championships, securing three first prizes all in one night. In 1909, Eller won both the 120-yard high hurdle and the 220-yard low hurdles, coming close to securing a record in the latter.”
During his 37-year career with the NYPD, Eller served as a patrolmen, and was on the Motorcycle and Warrant Squads. He received seven awards for excellent police duty and twenty-one citations for stopping run-away horses.
ELLER WINS POLICE TROPHY... New York Times, August 9, 1906.
New Champions in A.A.U Games; New York Times, Dec. 1, 1908.
POLICE ATHLETES WIN.; McDonald, Ryan, and Eller Win in Newark Benefit Games. New York Times, October 4, 1914.
John Eller - Spring 3100, Volume 21, No. 11, December, 1950.