SBS Remembers: Dock Ellis pitches a no-hitter on LSD ...

Remembrance Of Things Past: Dock Ellis Pitches A No-Hitter on L.S.D.- 50 Years Ago.

I am one of those people who you pick a date and I can remember all the details. No just kidding- I would have to think pretty hard to recall what I did last Monday- but I do remember a few things that happened 50 years ago today in my life. June 12, 1970. It was a Friday and the last day of third grade for me. Oh happy day! The summer was finally here and back then when I was nine years old summers seemed to last forever. The second thing that happened that day is -it was my cousin’s 1st birthday and my family and grandparents went to my Uncle and Aunts for it. When we left there it was starting to get dark and I got home in time to go to my room and turn the radio on to listen to the Pirates game. They were on the west coast- playing the San Diego Padres.

While I would later eye witness two no-hitters- this would turn out to be the first no-hitter I had followed either on the radio or television. Bob Moose had pitched a no-hitter for the Pirates a year earlier against the Mets but I had for some reason missed out on that game. While I was only 9 I was already a baseball fanatic. I collected baseball cards, had begun to read all I could about the game and back then would watch games that were on television which compared to today was very limited. Most of all I would listen to Pirate games on my transistor radio.

My uncle Klaus had taught me how to keep score and I would keep score of games that I watched/ listened to or attended a habit that continues to this day. I wish I still had that made up scorecard from this evenings game. Ellis was far from perfect in the game- he was wild giving up eight walks- but in the 5th inning I noticed while the Padres were getting men on base they hadn’t gotten a hit yet. The Pirates bats that night were also fairly quiet the would only have 5 hits- scoring their two runs in the first and seventh innings. Ellis continued to struggle throughout the game with control but going into the 9th inning had a no-hitter. In the bottom of the 9th Ellis got Chris Cannizzaro to fly out to center field, pinch-hitter Van Kelly grounded to first base and for the final out Ed Spiezio was struck out looking. No-Hitter for Dock Phillip Ellis.

It wasn’t until years later of course that Ellis made the claim that he had pitched this no-hitter while on acid. Dock was a controversial and colorful figure [ you may want to check out the documentary about him- No No- Dockumentary. Personally I don’t think it happened. I’ve read different accounts of this by people who were there that night who knew Ellis and a number of them question it. It is a great story though.

There was a great ESPN story on Ellis from nearly a decade ago that is well worth a read.


    • That’s crazy- and he scored the touchdown’s for his team? I think I read once where Dock said he never pitched a game in the majors without being under the influence of something. He later got straight and became a drug counselor.

  1. The only way I think it could have been true is he was coming down off of it and was during the last stages. It sounds too good to be true…especially in baseball and the concentration it takes.

    • Dock was the most colorful and controversial player I think in Pirates history. When they finally traded him- I think they felt they had to get rid of him. The older crowd of Pirate fans didn’t like him but as a teenager he was one of my favorites.

    • I think in his first year with the Yanks he won 17 games? or at least had one good year. Oddly he finished his career up as a Pirate…. off topic- Peter Jackson’s film scrubbed now until late August 2021.

    • It was scheduled for September- COVID-19. I think they want to wait until the theaters are up/ open and heavily attended. Why kick it back a full year though?

    • It shouldn’t I wouldn’t think…no new songs will be on the film I wouldn’t think…unless it’s a partial cover.

    • The Pirates signed him up in September 1979 for the stretch run- he wasn’t on the post season roster though. Interesting that they thought enough of him to bring him back because after 1975 you knew he had over stayed his welcome in Pittsburgh.

    • I read…I think in the Lyle book about George and Doc…I didn’t realize he had that good of season with them.
      He was a great pitcher…and a character for sure.

    • That first year in NY was pretty good after that it fell apart… Bad trade for the Pirates- Willie Randolph Ellis and Ken Brett for another Doc- Medich who was a huge disappointment. I think that trade they made a couple years ago for Chris Archer will replace it as the worst Pirate trade in my 50 plus years as a fan…

    • Oh yes…Willie Randolph…that is right he did come from the Pirates.
      I will have to admit the Chris Archer trade…I thought they were doing good at the time.

    • I understand why they traded Randolph- Rennie Stennett looked like the second baseman for the next decade- you can’t see the future and see he’d have a career changing injury… and it worked out fine- Phil Garner was a big part of the 79 championship. Doc Medich was just a dud- which made it bad.

    • Phil Garner was a player every team would love to have. I hated seeing him coming to bat…and that is a compliment. A guy who would do anything to win.

    • Everyone talks of the deal in mid-season to get Madlock being a big key- and it was- but the deal which at the time didn’t look like a big deal- Tavares to the Mets for Foli was also key. Tavares was a talented but erratic defender– Foli was sure handed- and had possibly his best year at the plate batting behind Omar Moreno-and in front of Dave Parker.He wasn’t spectacular but was solid-which is exactly what they needed from him. I don’t think they win without that deal.

    • It’s funny how smaller deals like this is sometimes the key…not for the bigger named players.
      That would have been a great place to bat between those two.

      Omar Moreno is the one Pirate I don’t remember as well from that time. I watched a special on the 79 Pirates on youtube this spring again and didn’t remember how important he was.

    • A lot of times doesn’t it seem that a team like this- not a truly great team historically- win due to players having career years. Moreno that year stole 77 bases and hit a career high .282. I don’t know how many times that year Moreno would get on base to start the game- Foli would sacrifice him over and someone would knock Moreno in to get them an early lead…. The Pirates also the winter of 78-79 sent Moreno to Alabama to work with hitting guru- and former Pirates manager in the mid 60’s- Harry “The Hat” Walker- something must have rubbed off….[ back in the 60’s after working with Walker- Clemente had his best seasons and a light hitting Matty Alou won a batting title.}

    • Harry Walker’s name rings a bell…wasn’t he the manager of Houston in Ball Four?
      The Pirates had one Hall of Fame player right? Another one that may get in one day in Dave Parker. Parker was the scariest guy ever on a baseball field…if you were rooting for the other team.

      They had those blue collar players that all had good years that setup the big guys. Hiting .282 for a centerfielder in 1979 was really good. A good hitting instructor and pitching coach that players listen to are worth their weight in gold.

    • Yes Harry was the Astros manager in Ball Four… Stargell and Blyleven were the Hall of Fame players on the 79 Pirates.. Moreno being so fast also covered a lot of ground in center field-he didn’t make spectacular catches like say Andy Van Slyke but just ran everything down. Parker was the most dangerous bat in that line up- day in and day out.

    • I forgot Blyleven! Shame on me…best curve ball ever. He had the curve everyday that Kerry Wood had for that one magical day.

      I’m going to watch that special again. It starts off in Spring Training…and goes through the great end. I remember Manny Sanguillen had some important at bats also…I’m going to pay more attention to Moreno…for the first time in months this conversation has me wanting to see baseball again.

      I looked at Parker’s numbers. I don’t know how you feel about Jim Rice but they are comparable to each other. WAR favors Rice but yea Parker was so intimidating.

    • Sanguillen was near that end at that point- 3rd string catcher- but mostly pinch-hitter but he won Game 2 off the bench driving in the winning run! A valuable bench player.. Parker needed one season like Rice’s 1978 and he’d be in I think. What hurts look at his 1980-84 5 year run- he was on coke and Dave Porker those years-should have been near prime years and they were mostly wasted. To give him credit he did get cleaned up and made a comeback.

    • That is the hit I was thinking about that Sanguillen made probably. It seems like those veterans will come through when you really need it.
      You are right…I looked at Parker’s numbers…yea cocaine was not a PED. His numbers would be much higher if not for that.
      He did pick up another WS ring in 89.

      I remember him on the A’s in 88…that lineup Hans…I watched it again this spring they still look big even compared to today. It was like an NFL team playing….He was just huge anyway. I hope he is doing ok now…I know he has Parkinsons.

    • Parker played hard- I didn’t know of course what was going on in his last years in Pittsburgh until near the end but he put on weight- had a bad knee and didn’t seem very focused. When the truth came out it wasn’t shocking- he wasn’t the same player during that period.

    • That’s funny– Hitler was reportedly a meth head. Maybe if LSD had been around he would have gotten better results- for him.

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