Strangest Story in Sports History – Dock Ellis Pitches No Hitter Baseball Game


I’m standing on the pitcher’s mound at
San Diego Stadium – and I am feeling good. It’s a bit drizzly, the crowd ain’t what
it could be – hell, I can’t even see who’s at bat right now – but I am absolutely euphoric! The catcher’s mitt is shining, his fingers
glowing, giving me the signals I need. The ball pulsates in my hand, growing, shrinking,
wanting to be let out. I got you, baby. I throw. Don’t know what just happened, but it doesn’t
change my mood! I’m Dock Ellis, starting pitcher for the
Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s June 12, 1970 – and I’m pitching
a game….high on acid. This ain’t the first game I’ve pitched
while “under the influence.” Truth be told, I’ve never pitched under
any other circumstances. Hell, when I first started, Greenies – that’s
what we call Dexamyl..uppers…amphetamines – they were provided to the players. Like having 20 cups of coffee before a game. Now, officially, they’re not permitted,
but anyone who tells you they don’t know about Greenies in the clubhouse is full of
it. But man, Greenies aren’t my only thing,
you know? It’s 1970, man, and I am living the era:
pill-popping, snorting, smoking, dosing. You ask my teammates, they’ll tell you about
getting calls at 3:30, 4 in the morning from Dock Ellis, trying to get them to join his
party! And sometimes they show up, because they know
it’s gonna be a good time. Hell, I’m the man that’s got his finger
on the pulse of what’s hot and happening, the bad boy of baseball – got my cadillac
with the red vinyl trim; pierced my ear before anyone else was doing it; and yeah, I get
hotel rooms full of fine women – the finest you’ve ever seen. I’m newly single and indulging in everything
I can. Of course, if I hadn’t already been indulging
in every drug you can name, I probably wouldn’t be single, but hey – that’s who I am. But I don’t let my fun get in the way of
my baseball. That’s how I wound up where I am right now,
tripping and pitching to batters who I can’t even see! I can vaguely see figures. Like, I know if he’s standing on the right
or the left. So far the only guy I’ve been able to fully
make out at-bat is Jimi Hendrix. wait, that doesn’t sound right – why’s
Jimi Hendrix batting for the Padres? He shouldn’t use his guitar like that – brother’s
got too much talent. Oh, man, that’s the LSD, isn’t it? Stay calm, Dock, look for the tape around
the catcher’s fingers. There it is. Throw. Man, just yesterday, we landed in San Diego
– early, so we had a free day to just chill, get our heads in order before the game. I asked to go to LA, where I grew up – family’s
there, have a lot of friends still there, it’s only a two-hour drive, right? They said yes. So, before I even leave the airport, I take
a dose of LSD. Right in the terminal. Because I know how long it’ll take to hit. I get a car, make the drive – by the time
I get to LA, I feel it. It hits. Once I get to my friend’s place near Compton,
I’m flying. A few hours later, I wake up. I mean, I think it’s been a few hours – who
knows? I stumble to the kitchen, where my friend
and his girlfriend are sitting with the newspapers. “You’re pitching today,” they say. They’re so full of it. I tell them: “That’s tomorrow.” Then they show me the newspaper. Yup, Dock Ellis is pitching against San Diego
in…six hours? Oh, hell. what happened to yesterday? But I made it, didn’t I? I don’t know how I made it, but I did, with
just 90 minutes or so to spare. My teammates know it, the other team knows
it, I’m on something. ‘Course, they don’t know just what I’m
on. I guess that puts us somewhere on the same
page, because I don’t know what’s happening, I just know people are reacting. We head back to the dugout. Dave Cash – he’s a rookie on the team, plays
second base – he gets my attention. “You got a no-no going,” he tells me. Yeah, right. A no-hitter? Not a single batter connecting, just balls
and strikes? Come on, man. I’ve won games high before – hell, every
game I’ve ever pitched I’ve used drugs before, and not just the Greenies. But not like this – I’m high as a Georgia
Pine right now. I’m struggling just to stand up on that
pitcher’s mound. I don’t let that get to me. Actually, considering the stress from trying
to get here, I feel pretty damn good. I struck out Jimi Hendrix, I think! I hope I earned it – from what I can see,
President Richard Nixon is the umpire. That conservative son of a – well, wait, if
one black man’s pitching against another black man, whose side would he fall on? Especially if it’s me vs. Hendrix. ‘Cause here’s something about me. I’m very outspoken about my politics, about
the racism endemic to the system – baseball, government, society, whatever, it’s there. Hell, one time I wore curlers to practice. Now this was an early morning practice, and
nobody what grew up with black men would bat an eye over a man with curlers in his hair. But because the big men in baseball – the
owners, coaches, managers, trainers – because they’re all white, it was front page news. What’s Dock doing with curlers in his hair? It’s morning, man, what do you expect? Just because I do things different, doesn’t make it the wrong way! Why not ask yourself why you find it so weird? OK, no time for that now. Nixon’s getting frustrated, time to pitch. I make my next throw. Ooh! I heard that one – didn’t see the guy, but
I just hit the batter! That’s a different kind of no-no than what
I’ve been pitching, if you believe Dave Cash. And whoa – one look at the scoreboard proves
him right – all across the line for the Padres it says: 0. 0. 0. Maybe it isn’t just the hallucinations from
the LSD. You’d think I’d be more confident. Everyone would tell you that I am, that I
took to baseball from the time I was a kid. I’ll even talk about it – how, in my dreams
I didn’t see the team, I didn’t see the stadium, but I saw the diamond and heard the
crowd and knew I was destined for this. My special curveball was my ticket in – most
curveballs, they curve out, to the side. My curveball curves down – it’s coming at
you, then ducks down just when you think it’s safe to hit it. That’s a Dock Ellis specialty. But I’m only human. I got my doubts, I feel the pressure that
comes with being a black man in America’s past-time. I’ve gotten all kinds of letters from people
calling me all sorts of names. They shut up once I started winning some games. But you have to always keep winning, keep
being the best. The Greenies and uppers help maintain that
energy; the other drugs help maintain my sanity. That’s what I tell myself. And like I said, we’re all doing some type
of drug. Everyone knows it. Hell, you think every decision the owners
make is stone-cold sober? I’m telling you right know, they’re a
bunch of drunks. You ever hear of a trade that makes no sense,
a deal that’s just so stupid you can’t believe anyone in their right mind would make
it? That’s because they’re not in their right
mind. Drunks, all of them. They’re making business decisions drunk,
just like we’re playing games high. Like I’m doing right now. OK. Focus, baby. Another pitch, and the ball disappears into
the mist of whatever. I can see it growing smaller and smaller before
it disappears entirely. OK! Now I wait for it to come back – Oh man! The ball is coming straight for my head – hurtling
towards me at maximum speed, like it’s been shot out of a cannon. It grows bigger and bigger – I don’t mean
it’s getting closer, I mean that thing is growing! It’s gonna crush me! I leap from the pitcher’s mound, ducking
out of the way! OK, false alarm. Get up, shake it off, laugh it off. It’s all good, baby. Pretty funny, actually. Third base throws the ball back to me. Just in time, I think I see someone trying
to steal second. He sees me catch him, runs to first – I run
faster, no time to throw it to the first baseman. I get there he does, tag him out with the
ball. “TOUCHDOWN!” I cry. Now I’m back on the mound. Pitching everywhere. Balls in the dirt, balls hitting people, flying
wherever. I’m just letting them go where they want. Be free, balls! This one batter, feels like he’s been there
a while. How many times have I thrown to him now? I’m not even sure. But I can feel a certain kind of tension radiating
off of everybody. I’m tuned in to it. I pitch. Hear the swoosh of a swing that doesn’t
connect. The thud of a ball in a catcher’s mitt. Yeah, i’m tuned in to it all. The crowd roars in the stands My teammates
rush the field, carry me up on their shoulders, lifting me high, high, high off the ground,
‘til I’m sailing far above, into the mist, into the sky, into the next day…. The next day. Yeah. Coming down from the acid was hell, but I’m
not doing another. Not when I have to play today. I arrive at San Diego Stadium – looks deserted,
empty. I ask the attendant, where is everybody? We got a game today! Guy looks at me all confused. “Mr. Ellis, that was yesterday!” what’s
he talking about? He tells me all about it, grabs a newspaper
to show me… I pitched a no-hitter – final score, 2-0,
Pirates won. The greatest moment of my professional career. And I can’t remember it. I can’t remember anything except Jimi and
Nixon and the ball changing shape and size… I can’t remember anything except the stuff
that didn’t happen. But to everyone else, right now, I’m a legend:
Dock Ellis, the no-hit pitcher. They don’t know that I am the man who pitched
a no-hitter, high on acid.

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