Anniversaries, gardening and otherwise

Dock Ellis baseball cardSome folks see June 12 on the calendar and they think, that’s the anniversary of the launch of GardenRant. (I sent good wishes and some music to get the hippie chicks dancing.) But the GR women share that anniversary with the that of the greatest feat in baseball history, if not all of athletics.

27 years ago today, June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a no hitter against the San Diego Padres while he claims he was tripping on LSD.

Long story short: Dock was partying and got his days mixed up and took acid around noon, only to discover he was to pitch that night. (Keven McAlester tells the whole story artfully in the Dallas Observer.)

All my personal experience with Dock’s drug of choice comes only from reading. But I believe him based on his quote:

Sometimes the ball looked like a beach ball. Sometimes it looked like a dot.

Sure, he was more wild than usual, walking 8 and hitting a couple of batters. But you gotta admit, that had to be one wild trip.

The happy ending: Dock cleaned up his act and is now a prison drug counselor. In addition to sharing part of his name with this blog, if you listed his name as it might appear on a roster — last name first, first initial — it spells out the chemical that got the whole story started: Ellis, D.

Needless to say, he got an article in High Times magazine. But his accomplishment is also celebrated in a song by Chuck Brodsky, whose Casey-at-the-bat style lyrics are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, not far from here:

Dock Ellis’s No-No

Listen (mp3)

Go buy Chuck’s Baseball Ballads CD

It was a lovely summer’s morning
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say
His girlfriend read the paper
She said, “Dock, this can’t be right…
It says here that you’re pitching
In San Diego tonight”

“Got to get you to the airport”
And so off Dock Ellis flew
His legs were a little bit wobbly
And the rest of him was too
Took a taxi to the ballpark
An hour before the game
Gave some half-assed explanation
Found the locker with his name

Time came to go on out there
Down the corridor
The walls were a little bit wavy
There were ripples in the floor
He went out to the bullpen
To do a bunch of stretches
Loosen up a little
Throw his warm-up pitches

All rose for the national anthem
People took off their hats
Fireworks were exploding
The cokes were already going flat
Dock was back there in the dugout
So many things to watch
Some players spit tobacco juice
Others grabbed their crotch

The umpire hollered, “Play Ball!”
And so it came to be
Dock’s Pirates batted first
And when they went down 1-2-3
Dock’s catcher put his mask on
And he handed Dock the ball
It was 327 feet
To the right & left field walls

The Pirates took the field then
And Dock stood on the rubber
He bounced a couple of pitches
And then he bounced a couple others
You might say about that day
He looked a little wild
The lead-off batter trembled
Nobody knew why Dock Ellis smiled

You walk 8 and you hit a guy
The things that people shout…
Especially your manager
But he didn’t take Dock out
Dock found himself a rythym
And a crazy little spin
Amazing things would happen
When Dock Ellis zeroed in

Sometimes he saw the catcher
Sometimes he did not
Sometimes he held a beach balll
Other times it was a dot
Dock was tossing comets
That were leaving trails of glitter
At the 7th inning stretch
He still had a no-hitter

So he turned to Cash, his buddy
Said, “I got a no-no going”
Speaking the unspeakable
He went back out there throwing
Bottom of the ninth
& He stood high upon the mound
3 more outs to go
He’d have his name in Cooperstown

First up was Cannizzaro
Who flied out to Alou
Kelly grounded out for Dean
The shortstop yelled, “That’s two”
It must’ve been a mad house
The fans upon their feet
The littler ones among them
Standing on their seats

Next up would’ve been Herbel
But Spezio pinch-hit
He took a 3rd strike looking
And officially, that was it
It was a lovely summer’s morning
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say

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5 thoughts on “Anniversaries, gardening and otherwise”

  1. Wow… that is one piece of baseball trivia that had somehow escaped me. *grin* Makes Verlander’s (apparently drug free) no-hitter yesterday seem like a cakewalk in comparison!

  2. that is really excellent craig. “baseball history” nearly drove me away but “tripping on lsd” brought me back. what do you suppose the batters looked like that evening?

  3. The stories in the links are well-spun and worth reading. They really make the case about what a feat it was.

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