June 12th, 1970. Dock Ellis, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD. You know, acid. The psychedelic drug that makes you hallucinate. Seems like an insane thing to mix with the intense focus you need to play sports at a high level. Well apparently, it was just the thing the Dock ordered because it cemented him in the history books in the very exclusive no-hitter club. SBS Remembers one of the more far out stories from the mound. Let’s dive deep into the Dock Ellis acid trip.
Ellis was no stranger to substances. He admits that he was always on something during his pro career. Usually, it was some sort of amphetamine-based upper but clearly he enjoyed experimentation with a variety of things. Dock was such a wild soul that his impact wasn’t just on the record books. He became part of the cultural fabric of the 70’s. The film No No: A Dockumentary explores this phenomenon.
Ellis took the mound. He was tripping balls but was seemingly unfazed. He threw a few wild pitches, hit a batter, walked 8 men but never gave up a hit. He worked each inning and appeared to be in control. Teammates had no idea how messed up he was. Dock recorded 6 strike outs on his way to a historic win. Not just for athletes, but for drug users everywhere. It’s a crazy achievement that will never happen again. Ever. LSD is no PED but I’m sure you’d still get suspended 180 games for testing positive for it.
Ellis cites it was the drugs that kept him calm and free of fear. I suspect as a no-hitter bid gets later and later into the game, the more the anxiety rises. But Dock had a secret weapon to stay in the groove. I don’t think LSD would help everyone like that but it sure assisted Dock Ellis. For your viewing enjoyment, here is Robin Williams explaining how Dock must have been feeling while he pitched.
This story is so fun because it takes us back to a different United States. To a time of exploration and deep self-reflection. Dock was a flower child for all intents and purposes. He showed America that the hippie movement wasn’t just the long hairs of San Fransisco. Look beyond the drug jokes because this is the vital piece to retain.
If you really want to go down the rabbit hole then watch this great animation complete with freaky colors and cartoon effects. It highlights Ellis’ day leading up to and completing the no no. It’s excellent. You can really tell this dude had a lasting impression on so many people because there is a wealth of material on him and his wacky antics.
Tales like this make me wish I was alive in the 70’s. I agree that our best athletes shouldn’t be doped up but this wasn’t steroids. This was a man who marched to the beat of his own drum. Drugs were a part of his counter-culture existence and that overlapped with a baseball career to form a strange time capsule of sorts. For all these reasons, Dock Ellis will always be remembered here at ScoreBoredSports.