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.