Dock Ellis, an 11 year big league veteran and a starter best known for a) pitching a no-hitter against San Diego while under the influence of LSD, b) winning 19 games for the Pirates in 1971 and c) claiming he’d not be selected to start for the NL against Vida Blue in the ’71 All Star Game as MLB would never allow “two soul brothers” to face each other in such a setting, passed away Friday at the age of 63. While Jay Jaffe’s excellent obit at Futility Infielder covers most of the notable aspects of Ellis’ career, for the 3rd time, I’m pasting the following excerpt from an interview with Dock by the Dallas Observer’s Kevin McAlester from June 16, 2005.
On June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirate and future Texas Rangers pitcher Dock Ellis found himself in the Los Angeles home of a childhood friend named Al Rambo. Two days earlier, he’d flown with the Pirates to San Diego for a four-game series with the Padres. He immediately rented a car and drove to L.A. to see Rambo and his girlfriend Mitzi. The next 12 hours were a fog of conversation, screwdrivers, marijuana, and, for Ellis, amphetamines. He went to sleep in the early morning, woke up sometime after noon and immediately took a dose of Purple Haze acid. Ellis would frequently drop acid on off days and weekends; he had a room in his basement christened “The Dungeon,” in which he’d lock himself and listen to Jimi Hendrix or Iron Butterfly “for days.”
A bit later, how long exactly he can’t recall, he came across Mitzi flipping through a newspaper. She scanned for a moment, then noticed something.
“Dock,” she said. “You’re supposed to pitch today.”
Ellis focused his mind. No. Friday. He wasn’t pitching until Friday. He was sure.
“Baby,” she replied. “It is Friday. You slept through Thursday.”
Ellis remained calm. The game would start late. Ample time for the acid to wear off. Then it struck him: doubleheader. The Pirates had a doubleheader. And he was pitching the first game. He had four hours to get to San Diego, warm up and pitch. If something didn’t happen in the interim, Dock Philip Ellis, age 25, was about to enter a 50,000-seat stadium and throw a very small ball, very hard, for a very long time, without the benefit of being able to, you know, feel the thing.