Saturday, December 20, 2008
Pittsburgh Pirates' pitcher Dock Ellis who said he was under the influence of LSD when he pitched a 1970 no-hitter against the San Diego Padres passed away yesterday.
Dock Ellis, the former major league pitcher best remembered for his flamboyance and social activism as a member of the great Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the 1970s, died Friday December 19th of a liver ailment in California. He was 63. Dock Ellis won 138 games over 12 major league seasons. Ellis spent 12 years in the majors with Pittsburgh, the New York Yankees, Oakland, Texas and the New York Mets. He retired in 1979 with a record of 138-119. but was best known for several colorful incidents on and off the field.
Dock related the LSD story in 1984 while he was co-ordinator of an anti drug program in Los Angeles. He said he didn't know until six hours before his June 12, 1970 no hitter that he was going to pitch.
"I was in Los Angeles, and the team was playing in San Diego , but I didn't know it. I had taken LSD..... I thought it was an off-day, that's how come I had it in me. I took the LSD at noon. At 1 pm, his girlfriend and trip partner looked at the paper and said, "Dock, you're pitching today! She got me to the airport at 3:30. I got there at 4:30, and the game started at 6:05pm. It was a twi-night doubleheader.I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria.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."
The Pirates won the game, 2-0, although Ellis walked eight batters. It was the highpoint in the baseball career of one of the finer pitchers of his time, and arguably,one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.
In May 1974 -- in an effort to inspire a lifeless Pittsburgh team -- Ellis beaned Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen in the top of the first inning. After walking Tony Perez, Ellis threw a pitch near Johnny Bench's head and was lifted from the game by manager Danny Murtaugh.
Ellis went 19-9 in 1971 for the Pirates, who beat the Orioles in the World Series.
Off the field, Ellis spoke freely about racial issues, once telling reporters that he wouldn't start against Oakland's Vida Blue in the All-Star Game because Major League Baseball would never start "two soul brothers'' against each other.
Ellis suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and was placed on a list to receive a liver transplant in May. The Los Angeles Times wrote that Ellis had no health insurance, but received help paying his medical bills from friends in baseball.Bill Scaringe, an agent who represented Ellis after he retired, said Ellis worked for years in the California department of corrections helping inmates transition from prison back to the community. He also ran a drug counseling center in Los Angeles. Scaringe said. "Dock was such a likeable person -- very gregarious, very outgoing. I would set up personal appearances for him, and after like 30 seconds, people were like relatives or neighbors. Dock was very easy to talk to. He was just a pleasure to be around.
That was Dock, peace be to his ashes .
Posted by Larry The Kidman at 4:10 PM