Modern-era baseball is kind of dull. That’s hard to say being a life-long fan of the game, but it’s true. It’s dullness is directly attributable to the fact there are no great personalities in the game any more. That is to say, there are no personalities as big as the one Dock Ellis brought to the ballpark every day.
He put up good numbers as a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues during his career. He went 139-119 with a 3.46 ERA over his 11-year career. Yet his tendency for showing up at the stadium wearing hair curlers, a move he later revealed would increase his sweatiness which he then used as a modified spitball during the game.
In one game versus the Reds early in the 1974 season, Ellis took the mound and attempted to hit every batter who approached the plate. He hit Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen to start the game, and narrowly missed hitting Tony Perez, and Johnny Bench in the second before being yanked by the manager. He allegedly did it because he believed his teammates were intimidated by the powerhouse Big Red Machine.
Best known as the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter on LSD, he accomplished much more than that in his lifetime. Most notably in the years after he kicked his drug habit, he turned his efforts toward helping others do the same.
It’s the other things Dock Ellis did that are at the heart of the documentary, No-No: A Dockumentary, scheduled to be shown Jan. 20 at the Sundance Film Festival.
It’s about time someone gave Dock Ellis his due, and honored his memory in a documentary featuring interviews with his friends and teammates. While it is truly astounding that he allegedly no-hit the San Diego Padres while tripping balls on acid, his eccentricities and contributions to the game go beyond just that one miraculous day.
The only problem with No-No: A Dockumentary being invited to Sundance, is there are still a few things that need polished in the film to make it the film it deserves to be. That’s why the filmmakers are trying to crowd-fund a last-ditch effort to fulfill their vision for the project.
As we mentioned before, the no-hitter while on LSD is what he was known for, as he should be, because it is one of those great baseball stories, like Babe Ruth calling his own shot.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here is an animated video of Ellis tellilng the story in his own words.
Ellis has also been eulogized in song for his LSD accomplishment. Just a few years ago, singer-songwriter Todd Snider wrote a song called America’s Favorite Pastime, which was entirely about Ellis’s big day.
Ellis passed away in 2008 from Cirrhosis of the Liver.