Gleason died in 1987, I was shaken. I was among the millions of “The Honeymooners” devotees who repeatedly watched
the “original 39” episodes, set in Brooklyn, and could quote from them.
Adding to my fascination with Brooklyn, I
was a retroactive fan of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, although the franchise moved to Los Angeles when I was an infant and my
favorite team from my own childhood was the San Francisco Giants, with Willie Mays. I read the juvenile novels by John Tunis
about the old Brooklyn Dodgers, starting withThe Kid from Tomkinsville, and came to appreciate both the Dodgers books
and his other works for young adults that gave us credit for intelligence. Later, I read The Boys of Summer,
Roger Kahn’s classic about the Dodgers, the team he grew up watching and later covered. I still consider it my favorite
when Gleason died, I was moved to combine my interest in “The Honeymooners” and The Boys of Summer and
quickly wrote a column that was a script for a mini-episode. I’ve played around with it over the years, and after seeing
Brad Garrett, best known for his role as Ray Romano’s brother on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” do a terrific
job of portraying Gleason in a television movie, I picture Garrett as Ralph in the following scenes.
Mighty Ralph at the Bat
Fatigued after driving the
Madison Avenue bus in Manhattan, RALPH KRAMDEN enters the Chauncey Street apartment in Brooklyn. At the table are neighbor
ED NORTON and TOMMY MANICOTTI, a member of the Norton-coached stickball team, plus ALICE KRAMDEN and her mother, MRS. GIBSON.
Nobody notices Ralph’s entrance. All are listening intently to the radio on the kitchen table.
RADIO ANNOUNCER: Mantle hits a bouncer to
the mound! Labine throws to Hodges! Th e Dodgers have beaten the Yankees 8–5 and the 1955 World Series is tied at two
games apiece with Game 5 coming up tomorrow at Ebbets Field!
TOMMY: The Dodgers are going to murder ’em, huh, Mr. Norton?
NORTON: Like we say in the sewer, the Yankees
are goin’ right down the drain. Too bad you won’t be able to see it.
MRS. GIBSON: If my Alice had only married that rich Howard
Morgan, getting tickets would be a snap.
ALICE: Now, mother . . .
RALPH: Leo Durocher was wrong! (He slams his lunch bucket on the table.) Nice guys don’t
finish last, they get stuck with mothers-in-law who look like Sal Maglie!
MRS. GIBSON: My son-in-law, the heavy hitter!
NORTON: The heaviest! If he could hit his
weight, he could beat out Roy Campanella behind the plate!
ALICE: What do you mean, Ed? The Dodgers do want him behind the plate. They need a
Haaaar-dee-har-har-har. (Smiling smugly, he walks slowly toward the table.) Now, normally, if you were talking about tickets
to a game like this, you’d say, “Fat chance.”
NORTON: Then if anybody has a chance, you do!
RALPH: The Yankees’ clubhouse man rides my bus. I’ve
told him about that uranium field I’m going to buy and that the first thing I’m going to do after I make my millions
is to buy a ballclub. He wants to get on my good side. All I gotta do is go down to the gas station and call him. Two tickets.
Like that! (Snaps fingers.)
TOMMY: You mean it, Mr. Kramden?
RALPH: You play hooky and I’ll do the rest. (He glares at his mother-in-law.) I’ll
show you who has pull.
TOMMY: Gee, thanks, Mr. Kramden!
(An hour later, Alice is alone with Ralph, who holds his head in his hands.)
RALPH: Alice, I’ve got a biiiiiig mouth.
I’ll have to tell Tommy he has to go to school, after all. Some big shot I am, huh?
ALICE: Why don’t you just wait until the
morning? Something will come up.
(It’s now the next morning. After a knock, Tommy rushes in excitedly. Alice puts her hands on Tommy’s
(Looking away.) Tommy, there’s something I have to tell you.
ALICE: (Smiling.) Yes, Tommy, Mr. Kramden will let you use the tickets
only if you promise to tell your teacher the truth about why you’re missing school.
TOMMY: Are you kiddin’? She’ll be
the first one I tell! She loves Duke Snider.
(Alice pulls two tickets out of her apron pocket and hands them to Tommy. He runs out. Ralph is
Now, you, Mr. Pull Hitter, don’t you ever promise Tommy anything like that again.
RALPH: But how?
ALICE: I used to babysit. You don’t even know
this, but one of the kids was named Sandy. Well, I went over to Sandy’s mother’s house last night and explained
the situation and she said I could have two of their tickets. Besides, Mrs. Koufax said, Sandy’s only 19 and he almost
never pitches and he’ll have other World Series—-if he ever can learn how to control that fastball of his.
RALPH: (Hugging Alice.) Baby,
you’re the greatest!