Where was Ralph Kramden really going on October 3, 1954?
In the Honeymooners sketch, “Game Called on Account of Marriage”, which debuted on the October 2, 1954 installment of the Jackie Gleason Show, Ralph tries to beg out of Alice’s sister’s wedding because he has tickets to the “Wooorld Series!” that was being played between the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants. Needless to say, this revelation leads to yet another classic battle between Ralph and Alice as each one tries to get in the last word. As usual, Alice has the upperhand.
Most diehard baseball fans can easily sympathize with Ralph’s plight. It is, after all, the “Wooorld Series!” However, before feeling too badly for Ralph, we first need to investigate the legitimacy of his claim. For starters, where did Ralph get the tickets? Are we to believe someone just gave them to him? Because we know that Ralph is going with Ed Norton, and Norton didn’t provide the ducats, we then must assume that Ralph was the beneficiary of a very generous gift. The alternative would be to assume that Ralph bought the tickets, but considering his salary, that doesn’t seem likely at all.
Let’s put that issue aside for a moment and get right to the point. Ralph couldn’t have had tickets to the World Series because only game 5 was scheduled to be played on Sunday, and that contest would have been in Cleveland. Considering that Ralph was spending Saturday night helping Alice’s sister elope, there is no way he would have had enough time to hop on a train and make it to Cleveland in time for the following afternoon’s game. In other words, Ralph wasn’t planning on seeing the game, so he must have had other plans.
When a police officer finally exposes Ralph’s charade by informing him that there won’t even be a game 5, Ralph takes the news in stride by acting surprised, but by this point, we know better. After all, if Ralph really was fixated on the World Series, but mistakenly thought game 5 was in New York (maybe that’s why he was able to get a hold of two tickets), are we to believe he wasn’t even following closely enough to know that the Giants had swept the Indians earlier that afternoon?
No, there is no way Ralph could have believed he was going to see the World Series, so neither should we. That understanding brings us back to the original question: where was he going that Sunday? Could it have been a secret Raccoon Lodge outing? That would explain why Norton was a party to the “clever ruse”. Also, Ralph may have thought Alice would have been more sympathetic to his wanting to see the World Series. As the clip below reveals, Alice isn’t well versed in matters of baseball, so using the World Series as a smokescreen would have been ideal.
Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure where Ralph was headed on October 3, 1954. We do know, however, that Gleason was well aware of the poetic license he was taking (he supposedly rewrote the script that evening to account for the Giants’ victory). The “Great One” was a renowned Giants fan who was not only in attendance at game 1 of the 1954 World Series, but reportedly was seated next to Frank Sinatra at the Polo Grounds when Bobby Thompson hit the “shot heard round the world” in 1951 (according to legend, he missed the homerun because he was busy vomiting on Sinatra’s shoes). What’s more, two days after Thompson’s historic blast, Gleason paid tribute to Ralph Branca, the pitcher who surrendered the homer, in the monologue of his “Cavalcade of Stars” variety show. Then, moments later, the first Honeymooners sketch was unveiled. I wonder if Ralph Kramden had tickets to that game as well?