Film

Dock Ellis's LSD Baseball Triumph

The Man Who Pitched a No-Hitter While Tripping on Acid

Dock Ellis's LSD Baseball Triumph

NO NO: A DOCKUMENTARY Me? I'm the pitcher with an attitude.

In Hirokazu Koreeda's 1998 film After Life, people who have just died arrive, after a walk through a fog, at a strange government office building. Here, bureaucrats ask the dead to name the most important moment in their life. Almost none can do so immediately, and many need help in the form of videotapes of their days and nights to locate it. But once this is done, the dead person is processed and filmed, and spends eternity in the moment that defined their entire life. If Dock Ellis, a black American baseball pitcher whose professional career spanned between 1968 and 1980, appeared at this department of the dead after his life ended in 2008, he would have had no problem determining the moment that defined his time on earth. It happened on June 12, 1970, in San Diego. There, on that day, he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres (he was pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time). But what made this achievement more than exceptional—even cosmic—is that Ellis was tripping on several hits of LSD.

There are two films about Dock Ellis. One, an animation by James Blagden, is called Dock Ellis & the LSD No-No. The other, a new documentary by Chris Cortez, is called No No: A Dockumentary. The former is a very funny short about the moment that gave Ellis eternity in baseball history and American culture: pitching the impossible while totally tripping. The other is a serious, feature-length film that looks at Ellis's youth (he was raised by a stern and hardworking father), his discovery of his gift (he could throw balls at very high speeds), and his first marriage (to the most popular hottie at his high school). We then learn about the impact that the death of his father had on him, his resolve to become a professional baseball player, his entry into the minor leagues, his promotion to the major leagues, his outspokenness about American racism, his taste for flashy cars and clothes, the rollers he wore during practice, his admiration for Muhammad Ali, his heavy drinking, his many drugs, and the all-important day he broke with the continuum of reality by pitching a no-hitter while colors and stars were exploding in his head. This part of the documentary uses the same interview as Blagden's short to tell the story of the all-American miracle—Ellis tells of waking up in a woman's apartment after having placed a tab of acid on his tongue, learning he is pitching that day ("What happened to yesterday?"), catching a flight, being high as "a Georgia pine," stepping on the mound, throwing balls at a catcher's fingers, being informed by another player that he was making history, and so on—but it is nowhere near as funny. In fact, it sounds a bit tragic.

After that peak, Ellis does more drugs, drinks more and more, divorces, remarries, hits Reggie Jackson in the face with a baseball, and finally crashes and retires in 1980. Then Ellis enters drug treatment, cleans up, and becomes a bit of a bore; this last part of the documentary feels long and is, unfortunately, dull. There is just no way around it: Ellis was a much more interesting person when he was drunk and high than when he was sober. What all of this shows is that the universe has no god, and that good and evil have nothing to do with its structure. Morality is human. Greatness is immoral. recommended

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Comments (41) RSS

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1
The whole LSD story is "fun", but unsubstantiated. It's well known that Dock Ellis like to tell a tall tale, and did so many times.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on September 3, 2014 at 10:04 AM · Report this
Wandergeist 2
Which is why this is not called a documentary, but a dockumentary.
Posted by Wandergeist on September 3, 2014 at 9:10 PM · Report this
Godzilla1916 3
"..the universe has no god, and that good and evil have nothing to do with its structure. Morality is human. Greatness is immoral."

Great line Mr. Mudede.
Posted by Godzilla1916 on September 4, 2014 at 2:32 PM · Report this
4
No game video, no point.
Posted by sea_bat on September 5, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
5
I have a minor quibble with your story Charles, I think it should have been "Greatness is amoral."
Posted by Hanoumatoi on September 5, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
Groovy indie songstress Barbara Manning did a pretty good song about Dock's no-no back in 1993: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=006i_UxLJ…

There's also a terrific photo of Dock with his hair in curlers here: http://www.bighairplasticgrass.com/2011/…
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on September 5, 2014 at 5:03 PM · Report this
7
@5 agreed! I even read it as such, and after seeing your comment looked back and saw "immoral." Immorality makes little sense in this context.
Posted by Bored@School on September 5, 2014 at 7:49 PM · Report this
Sean Jewell 8
Todd Snider does a wicked good song about this as well.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG2SPjcK…
Posted by Sean Jewell http://https://twitter.com/cursedjewell on September 6, 2014 at 8:59 AM · Report this
9
When I was a kid, I went to a Cubs-Pirates game @ Wrigley Field. Dock Ellis wasn't pitching that day, but I remember seeing him sitting in the bullpen with the other pitchers, with a bunch of pink curlers in his hair. He was a different kind of cat.

There's a brief, amusing description of his thoughts about the no-hitter in Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dock_Ellis#…

Posted by bad moose on September 6, 2014 at 1:13 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 10
@5 i made that choice of word for a reason.
Posted by Charles Mudede on September 6, 2014 at 5:31 PM · Report this
11
@10 that doesn't make it a good choice or the right reason. take the suggestion.
Posted by CrankyBacon on September 7, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
12
@1 I played some pretty hot lacrosse games in college after a night of tripping on acid and/or X. The ball would freeze-frame into my stick pocket, and I felt like I could see the defenseman's stick coming for me a mile away- made some of the best dodges of my time playing. The stimulant effect let me run my ass off too. I would actually be more surprised if Dock's story had *not* happened.
Posted by kylecheez on September 7, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
13
Charles, would you like the morning star?

I found him in a grave.

Jordan's youngest -> ruins.

:D

youtube.com/watch?v=XaV-nGQ5yqw
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 7:54 PM · Report this
14
Ok. Peace out, homeskillets.

Time to build a dynasty.

youtube.com/watch?v=g31y7SZ5Ego
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
15
youtube.com/watch?v=aIzItWnjBdQ

Hypercapitalist open season in 5..4..3..
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:12 PM · Report this
16
Must really burn your stones.

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:13 PM · Report this
17
Oh, and Mars Hill.

The only way you can be healed is to CUT OUT THE FAITH-BASED INVESTMENTS.

Say, give yourself 3 1/2 years of operating capital before expanding?

Physical reality strikes once more.

I encourage you to join The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent, or the one I founded, TCJCROYJ.

youtube.com/watch?v=L0oc2GarBFU

Yaaaaaaay.
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
18
Thanks, JynoCidisT.
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:43 PM · Report this
19
You're going to be walking around by yourself during the call to prayer, lil Ms. Driscoll.

You're going to be like "Whoa. I'm fucking insane."

You'll find that some Sauds do have blue eyes. You'll look at my picture and know why.

You're going to catch shit from the kid who stamps your passports in New York. You're going to stand there during the awkward pause after you say "No, I'm not government, and no, I'm not military" and be thinking "yeah, you have to let me in" until he stamps your passport.

Then you'll be too fucked up to share a smile when the real security comes to check up on you.

Because you'll be too busy flirting with the New Yorker trying to hit on you as you down your first beer in two weeks.
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:55 PM · Report this
20
Loud. Speakers.

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:58 PM · Report this
21
youtube.com/watch?v=p6bs9GWrspY

:D:D:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 8:59 PM · Report this
22
youtube.com/watch?v=37r9aqTxhBQ

╠:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 9:17 PM · Report this
23
I LOVE MY BABIES
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 9:20 PM · Report this
24
youtube.com/watch?v=iCC8tjrXYE8
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 9:34 PM · Report this
25
iamafuckingarchon

youtube.com/watch?v=kaFygeknae8
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 9:46 PM · Report this
26
youtube.com/watch?v=AR8SkOhKG9Y

Fresh.
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 10:08 PM · Report this
27
Me and Queen Kong fucked it up.

Didn't we.

AND IT'S PROPER.

All I ever had to do was look at an unpatterned surface and envision Mos Def making the Elliott Smith leap.

And it's like.

Ok dude. I'll do it.

You know. A leap of faith.

youtube.com/watch?v=P8a4iiOnzsc

Hella fresh.

I just finished a conversation with two virgins detailing their exploits.

You know, all of the girls they hit on.

Hi guys. You kill us.

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 11:10 PM · Report this
28
youtube.com/watch?v=jpb0XB-gT_U

See guys.

Do you see.
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 11:32 PM · Report this
29
youtube.com/watch?v=jAwGgQkXW0g

I really, really want you to get what kind of a hell you're headed to.
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 7, 2014 at 11:45 PM · Report this
30
Guess in what grade I pulled a violin solo, guys.

It wasn't fair, though.

The raised violinist pulled the rest.

Anyways. It was hot cross buns, and it started with 'the second.'

youtube.com/watch?v=pIIX0oCDAs0

http://i.imgur.com/tvEvnYI.jpg

The fucking idiots.

ALL POWARS>
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:08 AM · Report this
31
Die happy, Champagne.

Die happy.

youtube.com/watch?v=Ae1XLYUK21Q
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:11 AM · Report this
32
youtube.com/watch?v=YyaDivSeMig

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:15 AM · Report this
33
And then some fucking indians fed me a pot brownie and fucked up my leading role at the reservation.

So it goes.

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:25 AM · Report this
34
ALL POWARS>
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:28 AM · Report this
35
They made me teach the whole world, ms champagne.

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:31 AM · Report this
36
ALL POWARS>
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 12:31 AM · Report this
37
youtube.com/watch?v=YyaDivSeMig
Posted by a_titanic_blue on September 8, 2014 at 12:35 AM · Report this
38
youtube.com/watch?v=o2nRshcqgMA

:D
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 1:21 AM · Report this
39
youtube.com/watch?v=l_iRdgGZ6Xc
Posted by a_titanic_bluebird on September 8, 2014 at 2:41 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 40
What just happened
Posted by Unregistered User on September 8, 2014 at 1:07 PM · Report this
41
He may be boring sober, but at least he's alive--an unbeievable gift for both himself and his loved ones.

"Morality is human. Greatness is immoral."--That feeds into the super stupid and ignorant live fast, die young mentality.

I'm guessing you have never lost someone who died too young as a result, either directly or indirectly, of addiction. Famous or not, someone's achievements are pretty insignificant to a prematurely dead person's loved ones. They just ache and ache for that person to still be alive.

Dock Ellis is super brave for staying alive, and it takes as much courage to be the crazy fun party-loving success as it does to be a "boring" sober person.

I hope you never know what it feels like to lose someone like that.
Posted by crank on September 8, 2014 at 2:07 PM · Report this

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