Dock Ellis was a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the early 1970’s. A black man, he was outspoken on matters of race. He made no secret of his use of pot, speed, cocaine, and alcohol. It was the Seventies.
On June 12, 1970, Ellis was scheduled to pitch for the Pirates in San Diego in a game against the Padres. Ellis had crashed the previous night at a friend’s home in Los Angeles. And for whatever reason he decided to drop some acid (LSD). LSD is a psychedelic drug that can cause a variety of sensations such as distorted senses, vivid colors, and hallucinations.
Ellis woke the next morning and took more acid. Shortly thereafter, his friend’s girlfriend told him he was pitching that day. Ellis told her she was wrong. It was June 11th and he wasn’t scheduled to pitch until the next day. She told Ellis he was one day off, it was the 12th. Ellis did not believe her until she showed him the sports page from that morning’s paper.
Realizing he had screwed up, Ellis caught the first flight to San Diego. Still suffering the effects of the LSD, Ellis arrived at the clubhouse and suited up. Then he swallowed some Benzedrines to try to counter the effects of the LSD.
Standing on the mound, Ellis was disoriented. He had trouble identifying the batters. He knew they were swinging bats and that sometimes they stood on the left side of the plate and sometimes they stood on the right side of the plate.
It wasn’t pretty. Ellis walked eight batters and hit one. He later wrote, “I was zeroed in on the (catcher’s) glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters and the bases were loaded two or three times. The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me.”
But a funny thing happened. Ellis struck out six batters and did not allow a single hit. The Pirates won the game by a score of 2-0.
The odds of a major league baseball pitcher throwing a no hitter are 1 in 1,548. The odds of doing it while under the effects of LSD are probably more daunting. To this day Ellis’ feat remains of the greatest athletic achievement ever by a man on a psychedelic journey
Dock Ellis died of a liver disease at the age of 63.