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Happy Dock Ellis Day

Jun 12, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT

Dock Ellis

Today is the 42nd anniversary of Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter while on acid.

We could joke about that. Believe me, I know, it’s easy to make drug jokes. But for some reason I have always viewed the Ellis no-hitter as something that — while certainly amusing — says something more about life and baseball and just how crazy and by-a-thread most people’s existence is.

Ellis had no business throwing a no-hitter while tripping his face off. No one has any business doing anything in that state. But he did. And it all happened because he was just completely unprepared. He mixed up the off-days on the Pirates’ schedule, took substances athletes should not be taking and ultimately ran into that game with reckless, hopeless, mind-addled abandon. And it worked somehow.

We shouldn’t glorify that, exactly, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and saying “damn,” and then giving a long, low admiring whistle. May all of us have a day go that well when, by all rights, it should go disastrously.

There are at least two other people who think about the Ellis no-hitter in this way, and they’re worth reading/listening to again.  The first one is Will Leitch who wrote this about it on the occasion of Ellis’ passing three and a half years ago:

The world is a crazed, nonsensical place, mostly random, confused, chaotic, numbing. We search for reason wherever we can find it. And then, out of the nether, someone throws a no-hitter on LSD, and we realize that there is so much we do not understand, so much that will always elude, so much with a strange beauty that’s impossible to comprehend.

The second is Todd Snider. Who wrote a song about it. A ballad for a man who was unprepared:

Happy Dock Ellis Day, Dock. On whatever plane it is you currently inhabit.

  1. manifunk - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    How on earth do you write an article about Dock Ellis’ no-hitter and not post this video:

    foreshame, Craig

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      Because everyone ever posts that video when this comes up.

      • sebaker - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

        Well how about Barbara Manning’s epic song

      • donnell1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:48 PM

        There’s the trailer for The Dockumentary , which is incredibly good —

        And here’s the ibook Beyond Ellis D, from the interview that yielded Dock Ellis & the LSD No-No. Beyond Ellis D features three new animated shorts.

      • Old Gator - Jun 13, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        We’re not saying anything new here. We’re just saying the same things that need to be said again and again with fierce conviction.

    • donnell1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      Anyone interested in knowing who Dock Ellis really was can hear Jim “Mudcat” Grant, author Donald Hall and others discuss him on public radio’s Unfictional.

  2. blues1988 - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    todd snider kicks ass! great song!

    • seeinred87 - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Love me some Todd Snider.

    • lostsok - Jun 12, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      Todd Snider is the best song writer in America not named “Dylan.”

  3. hansob - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Roger Sterling approves.

  4. beearl - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I’ll be honest with you, I love his music. I do. I’m a Todd Snider fan. For my money, I don’t know if it gets any better than when he sings “Statistician’s Blues”.

    • dexterismyhero - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

      B double E double R un Beerun!

      I actually threw a no no doing acid also, but it was in golf and not baseball!!!

    • lostsok - Jun 12, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      My fav is “Ballad of the Kingsmen,” but either way…few writers have written as many brilliant songs in one career as TS.

  5. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    “Oh man, I’m throwing this tiny purple dragon so good today. No one can make contact because he uses his wings to fly right past em, man!”

    • lostsok - Jun 12, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      “His sinker looked like it was fallen’ off a table…but nobody was hallucinating THAT.” (From the Snider song.)

  6. barrywhererufrom - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    why is this newsworthy? I love this quote…’We shouldn’t glorify that, exactly, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and saying “damn,” and then giving a long, low admiring whistle. May all of us have a day go that well when, by all rights, it should go disastrously’…wow a drug addict pitched a no-hitter on LSD..amazing who gives a crap, and what is the significance of it, unless you find it amazing that a drug addict pitched a no-hitter when things should of gone bad..what a feat..I will take Jim Abbott’s no hitter any day over this s”it. He was born with a defect didn’t give himself a self-induced one..

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:58 PM

      You sound like you’d be so fun to have around at parties.

      • number42is1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        i lol’d

      • RedHeadedBastard - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        There you go again, Craig; Posting baseball stories on your baseball blog. The nerve.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM

        Hahaha! No shit.
        On a separate note: Thanks for the explanation on the McDonald’s suit.
        Please know it still seems really silly to me. I mean…it was coffee. Coffee is served hot.
        You spill it…you may or may not get burned.
        But to reiterate…I do appreciate the explanation.

    • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      Who says it’s newsworthy? This is a baseball blog. Plenty of people here will be interested.

      It’s not like Dock was selling sub-prime mortgages or something.

    • aceshigh11 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      What a shock that a paranoid, borderline-personality, birther asshole like you would have such a joyless, hate-crazed view of the world.

      Go back to Free Republic, Slingblade.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

        “You ought to not talk to da’ boy like at.”


    • jlovenotjlo - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:15 PM

      Is that you Cole Hamels?

    • El Bravo - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:20 PM

      LSD is not physically addictive.

    • nategearhart - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      Redundant comment is redundant.

    • willyboy1964 - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Straighten up everyone! Tuck those shirts in! Barrywhereufrom is here!

    • Matt S - Jun 12, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Someone who does acid once isn’t necessarily a drug addict.Now Dock might well have done a lot more than that, but not as far as you know.

  7. cur68 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Ironically, yesterday I I was telling some HBT denizens about the time I got a haircut from a young lady tripping on something. I presume it was acid…or perhaps ecstasy. Who knows? Whatever it was, I received a TERRIBLE haircut. I’m lucky to have gotten out of there with both ears still attached. She, however, was having a great time fondling on my hair. Said it was sooo soft, like fur. At first, I thought she was coming on to me. Then I realized it was the drugs, man. The only good part was that she was pretty hot and incautious with her neckline. My hair looked like hell, but I didn’t notice till I got home. So yeah, you might be able to throw a no-hitter while trippin’ but, in my experience, you shouldn’t be cutting anyone’s hair…unless you’re a c-cup with a nipple ring and bear a favourable resemblance to Mena Suvari. Then we good.

    • number42is1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      you spelled favorable wrong… but more importantly…. Mena Suvari? really? you talking about late 90’s Suvari or present day? cause if you are talking present day then we got a problem.

      • cur68 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        Hmmm…not to get all up in your grill BUT, you spelled it wrong, actually. I’m using the original spelling of the word, not the Americanized (wrong) version. As a Canadian and card carrying Y-Chromasomer I reserve the right to pick and choose whichever spelling convention and version of Ms Sauvari I want to use. I’m going with her American Beauty days, if you must know. Anyhow, I said it was a favourable resemblance. I meant favourable in every sense of the word. Very, very favourable.

      • number42is1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        you may want to get your spell check…well…. checked… it keeps putting an extra “u” in there for some reason?
        and yea… The American Beauty version of her was pretty awesome……. but i think Mila Cunis is what everyone was expecting her to turn out to be. not knocking your choice just trying to understand.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:17 PM

        42: Cur is Candian. As a result, he unnecessarily puts a ‘u’ in several words.
        Another example: You and I may spell color…”color.” Whereas Cur spells it “colour.”
        He also tends to use an “s” when a “z” should be used.
        Example: You and I may spell andozing…”anodizing.” Whereas Cur spells it “anodising.”
        He is also a black man who happens to like hard rock, baseball, hockey AND he can swim.
        I do think he is afraid of spiders though.
        But most importantly…who gives a flying fuck?

      • number42is1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        nah i know… just busting his (apparently black) balls.

        “He also tends to use an “s” when a “z” should be used.”
        you must mean Zed

      • cur68 - Jun 12, 2012 at 7:39 PM

        How did the colour of my nuts get into this? Yeah, they black; they black and they bad (hide your women). Here’s the salient fact: boobz…with a nipple ring. Focus, gentlemen.

      • bbil2012 - Jun 12, 2012 at 7:42 PM

        He’s Candian? So you’re saying he’s like John Candy. So Cur is from Canada too then.
        I think I got it now.

  8. jlovenotjlo - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    I don’t feel like doing any research or reading up on anything, but I’ve often wondered, is there any evidence that he did it on LSD, other than just saying he did?

    If so, holy crap.

    • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      Good question. I never thought to do any more than take his word for it. In 1970, claiming to do it would have been a badge of honor.

      • jlovenotjlo - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM

        Yea exactly. I think he was just trying to shock people, maybe get some attention. It just seems truly impossible.

      • florida76 - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        Folks, this is baseball folklore, it’s a myth. A funny tale, but nothing in terms of evidence to suggest it ever happened. Years went by before Ellis came up with this tale, why? And why was there nothing noticed by anyone on the scene that night in San Diego? I’m talking teammates, coaches, players, and media on both sides. It just doesn’t make sense if you look at this objectively. And what about the feat of throwing a no-hitter while hallucinating in the major leagues?

        Dock Ellis was a very colorful character who liked to draw attention to himself. When his head was on straight, he could be a very good pitcher. Ellis, like others in that era, used drugs, but no way was he high on that night in San Diego.

      • baseballiconoclasts - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:29 PM

        @florida76 Our film contains an interview with the lifelong friend he did the acid with.

        He is briefly in the trailer here. You will get much, much more on this topic in the finished film.

    • donnell1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      When Dock told me the story, I really held his feet to the fire. He was definitely tripping. I do believe that by the seventh, eighth and ninth innings he was coming down from the lysergic acid and pretty much only on amphetamines… You know, the MLB-sanctioned drugs.

      But that’s just my opinion.

      More importantly, from having viewed hours of interview footage from The Dockumentary, I know that Dock was known for being honest to a fault.

  9. mybrunoblog - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I once had Ellis sign a bat for made and the bat had the word Cooperstown on the label (that was the name of the bat company).
    Ellis looked at the word Cooperstown, smiled at me and said” Yeah Cooperstown, that’s where my hat is. I’d be glad to sign it” Ellis’ no hitters game used hat is in the HOF and he was proud of that fact. No, he didn’t mention acid.

    • Jonny 5 - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

      There is the evidence needed. Right there. The hat in Cooperstown. Let’s prove or disprove this. Anyone up for mission impossible @ Cooperstown? I’ll hang you from the heater vent that would undoubtedly be right above this hat.

  10. barrywhererufrom - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Now this is an accomplishment..Holy cow a drug addict pitched a I get why you posted it..I am tired of this we dont want to glorify the taking drug thing and then we glorify it..maybe that is part of the problem with this nation and drug use..we never talk about the end results of drug use..what happened to dock ellis and his career? Oh I remember basically he never lived up to his potential..i wonder why?

    • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      Potential to what? Who assigned you responsibility for judging his life?

    • nategearhart - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      Yes, no one ever talks about the bad things that happen to you when you do drugs. Never happens. Nope.
      The “problem” with this nation and drug use is that drug use is so demonized in the first place. You’ve never noticed any billboards saying non-sensical, untrue things like “Smoking weed will kill you!”? They’re usually right next to the ones that say “Be like Joe Montana! Drink Coors!”

  11. barrywhererufrom - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Too many morons too little this guy..Potential to what? Who assigned you responsibility for judging his life? I dont know maybe his baseball career? Or maybe his life? Oh I forgot I just don’t get it LSD is not addictive..drugs are ok..who am I to judge him..not judging pal..just saying if Ellis pitched a no hitter on LSD I am sure he was capable of much much more in his career if he didnt do that so hard to figure to my favorite moron “What a shock that a paranoid, borderline-personality, birther asshole like you would have such a joyless, hate-crazed view of the world.

    Go back to Free Republic, Slingblade. Wow being called a BIRTHER WHICH I AM name is just a joke that we nothing about our president..again if you dont get it then maybe their is really no hope for you..being called joyless because I dont like the glorification of drug use is really weak..Dude I have a child I would hope by now that morons out there glorifying drug use would end..maybe you cant see that..and having a hate crazed view of the world..Dude I love everyone..if being called hate crazed because I speak my mind then so be it..again if I full of hate what they heck are you calling me a asshole..I am sure you are a real tough guy calling me a name that you would never dare say to my face..

    • senotonom205 - Jun 12, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      Yeah, You wont say it to his face, says the guy trying to act intimidating on the internet. Pot… meet Kettle.

    • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      So righteous and indignant. If only those pesky facts supported you.

    • jlovenotjlo - Jun 12, 2012 at 6:25 PM

      The 1st thumbs up “Barry” obviously awarded to himself… But who the hell gave the 2nd one? We need solidarity!

  12. barrywhererufrom - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    @senotonom stating a fact that if someone would call you a asshole to your face i would feel differently about that…I didnt call anyone any names..I didn’t think aceshigh would say something like that to me or anyone else unless he was on the internet.. If you think that is intimidating someone on the internet than so be it..wasnt meant to be..

    • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      Dock Ellis pitched for 12 years, nine of them beyond the no-hitter that may or may not have been on drugs. His ERA for the ten years where he was effective was under 3.5. He won 138 games. He had over 1100 strike outs and pitched in the World Series.

      Dock may have been a flake, but he led an interesting and successful life by most measures. He probably drank himself to death in his 60’s, but I will find you plenty of Tea Partiers who will do that, too.

      So tell me again about the lost potential.

      • baseballiconoclasts - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:51 PM

        Dock was sober for the last decades of his life and in fact served as a substance abuse counselor – in the California prison system, in youth incarceration facilities, and at other institutions – for many, many years before his death. Again, lots more to this story than meets the eye.

        You are right about the first part – he was a bad ass pitcher with a substantial career.

      • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM

        I stand corrected on the alcohol abuse. I saw death from cirrhosis and assumed time frame. But it is a rather common cause of death in this society. And thank you for helping to make my point that Dock lived up to a rather high potential in his life.

  13. brianjoates - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Try taking acid, its fun. Or you can just always judge everyone based on someone elses opinions.

  14. baseballiconoclasts - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Hey Dock Fans! The long-awaited Dock Ellis film “No No: A Dockumentary” is a live project on Kickstarter, raising funds to finish the film. Check it out, WATCH THE TRAILER!

  15. metalhead65 - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    is there any way other than his word that it can be verified that the loser was in fact on drugs that day? I do not do drugs but have seen people at parties doing that shit and they have no idea where they are and can barely speak and you are telling me this fool pitched a no-hitter while tripping? and this is cause to celebrate because? and yeah as a matter of fact I happen to be great fun at parties because the ones I attend we partake in legal substances like beer mostly. but I guess I should expect you to celebrate taking lsd since you have no problem with guys roiding up to set records and then lying about when it is obvious to everyone but fans of their team they cheated.

    • brianjoates - Jun 12, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      I am going to just have to assume you are about in the ninth grade after reading that, just give it some time, meet some more people, you will develop a more conclusive opinion about recreational drug use as you experience more in life. Just keep it in moderation.

      Those kids that you think have no idea where they are and can barely speak…yes, they are laughing at you.

      • metalhead65 - Jun 12, 2012 at 10:42 PM

        sorry to disapoint you but I am a full grown adult smart enough to know what drugs can do to you. I am not one of those people like you who act all surprised and shocked when somebody famous turns up dead from doing to much of the recreational want to ruin your life go right ahead but drug use should not be treated as joke or reason to celebrate. every addict gets started by trying it,then those of us who are smart enough not to do it in the first place are suppose to feel sorry when they are strung out and arrested for doing them. go ahead and laugh at me as I will be the one having the last laugh when you are in jail or rehab loser.

    • cur68 - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:12 PM

      Yes, but is ti Dusty Baker’s fault? C’mon, you know it is…

  16. lazlosother - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    I’m having a hard time believing this one. The only people whho “know” about the alleged LSD no-hitter are people doc told, and the people they told. There is no verification from anyone at the game other than Doc. Bill Christine, the Pirates beat writer that year was with the team a lot in 1970, and he was at the no-hitter. Christine does not buy the story. He saw nothing erratic in Doc’s behavior, and interviewing him immediately after the game found him quite lucid.

    The first version of the story involved vodka and speed, later it changed to LSD and speed. The good doctor was known to be quite liberal with the truth, and loved attention.

  17. donnell1 - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Reblogged this on Beyond Ellis D and commented:
    The most mainstream exposure Dock’s received since 2010’s New York Times article.

    A great debate is going on down in the comments section. For once the Internet’s anonymity is serving as a force of good,

  18. barrywhererufrom - Jun 12, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Have to say after reading the hatred from some of need some drug education..when I say names like Steve Howe ken camminitti daryl strawberry doc gooden and dock Ellis either their drug uswee either killed them or they did NOT reach their full potential. You are ok with the message that moderate drug use is ok..clearly I am not..I wonder what a former addict like Ellis would think..

    • stex52 - Jun 12, 2012 at 7:15 PM

      Gross misinterpretation. Where is your evidence he was a drug addict? I have no use for drugs myself. But you are willfully not reading what is said here. If you actually read the blog, you would know:
      a. The whole story may have been made up.
      b. He had an exceptional pitching career.
      c. He led an interesting and varied life, that included years of counseling in prisons.

      Yet all we get from you is “drug addict.” You are far too willing to define someone else’s life with two words, when it is clear you know nothing about him.

  19. 4d3fect - Jun 12, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    I’ve witnessed plenty of people on acid and lucidity was commonplace for the most part, which is why I don’t understand the assumption you’re automatically incapacitated. Just because a beat writer doesn’t notice something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, everyone here ought to know that.

  20. purnellmeagrejr - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:31 AM

    Sorrry, Craig – didn’t reallly need you to analyze the significance of Dock’s acccomplishment.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 13, 2012 at 7:36 AM

      Sorry I made you read that and everything.

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