Run for the Money was the 249th episode of the M*A*S*H television series, and the 9th of Season 11. Written by Elias Davis & David Pollock and Mike Farrell and directed by Nell Cox, the episode aired on December 20, 1982.
Father Mulcahy must save the camp's honor in a high-stakes footrace against the 8063rd. Hawkeye, B.J., and Margaret each bet on it. Meanwhile, Charles tries to help Private Walter Palmer, a patient who suffers frequent verbal abuse from his fellow soldiers due to his stuttering.
Full episode summary
Klinger is excited over the prospect of yet another can't-fail, fool-proof scam: sprinter Jessie McFarland has been assigned to the 4077th, and will be arriving shortly.
His plan is to schedule a race against the 8063rd, who has a top-flight sprinter on camp. Klinger guesses that the 8063rd will think the 4077th is sure to lose, not knowing they've got McFarland on their staff.
Hawkeye and B.J. are initially not at all interested, tired of being caught up in another of Klinger's scams. But after Margaret goes along with the plan (to get revenge on the 8063rd's Head Nurse), they badger the doctors into going along with it.
After tending to some wounded engineers (including one who stutters, and is mocked by his comrades for it), McFarland arrives - except it's Jessie McFarland Sr., an older, vastly overweight "tired old soldier." The runner in question is Jessie McFarland Jr. - a little detail Klinger missed.
During a mail delivery, Klinger tries to butter everyone up, but they remain furious at Klinger for roping them into this. The one person he doesn't have to schmooze is Winchester (who receives a tape-recorded letter from his sister Honoria in the mail), who tells Klinger not to worry because he didn't bet, and "I don't like you anyway."
Then Margaret hits on the idea to put up the one genuine runner they have in camp - Father Mulcahy, given that the distance of the race hadn't been discussed. Mulcahy turns them down at first, but after continued pressure, he relents, and begins training.
While everyone is wrapped up with the race, Winchester is tending to the wounded engineers in Post Op. He catches wind of their commander, Captain Sweeney (Thomas Callaway), mocking the stuttering young man, Pvt. Palmer (Phil Brock) in front of everyone.
Winchester takes Capt. Sweeney outside, promising that if he hears one more unkind word towards Pvt. Palmer come from Sweeney's lips, he will personally write a letter detailing Sweeney's inhumanity and have it placed in his personal file. Sweeney tries to protest, but Winchester cuts him off.
Later, the race between Mulcahy and the 8063rd's runner, Pvt. LeMasters (Mark Anderson) begins, and almost immediately, Mulcahy falls behind.
In Post Op, Winchester takes Palmer to get some x-rays, but Palmer finds out it is a ruse. Winchester has a heart-to-heart talk with Palmer, trying to reassure him that just because he stutters, it doesn't mean Palmer isn't smart, something Palmer seems convinced of.
Winchester confides to the young man that he reads comics books like Palmer does, but says that Palmer is smart enough to tackle more complex literature - like Moby Dick, a leather-bound copy of which he gives to Palmer as a gift.
Palmer asks why Winchester is being so nice to him, but Winchester deflects the question and takes him back to Post Op. Later, Winchester returns to in the Swamp, preparing to listen to the audio tape his sister sent him. We learn that Honoria stutters as well. As she goes on, a look of utter contentment comes over Winchester's face.
Meanwhile, the race between Mulcahy and LeMasters heads into the final stretch. Somehow, Mulcahy has managed to almost catch up, and then he passes LeMasters.
But just before he crosses the finish line, Mulcahy issues a demand: all the winnings go to the orphanage, or he'll let LeMasters win. Everyone agrees, and Mulcahy wins the race. Mulcahy reveals later on that LeMasters threw the race - during moments when he let Mulcahy catch up, he would make "chit-chat" about the poor starving orphans, which browbeat LeMasters so much he agreed to let Mulcahy win.
As Father Mulcahy goes to put the orphan's money in the company safe, Klinger (who wasn't around to hear about LeMasters throwing the race) tries to get Mulcahy to race against another M*A*S*H* unit, believing he won on his own merits, and telling the Father they'll both clean up. Mulcahy confesses that the race was fixed, and as he goes into Potter's office to secure the money, Klinger races to the phone to cancel all the bets he's already made on the races he prematurely set up featuring Mulcahy.
Recurring cast/Guest stars
- Phil Brock as Pvt. Walt Palmer
- Thomas Callaway as Captain Sweeney
- Barbara Tarbuck as Major Judy Parker
- William G. Schilling as Sgt. Jessup "Jesse" McFarland (as William Schilling)
- Robert Alan Browne as Colonel Crocker
- Kellye Nakahara as Lieutenant Kellye Yamoto
- Mark Anderson as Private Earl "Jackrabbit" LeMasters
- Michael Conn as G.I. #1
- Ken Wright as G.I. #2