June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis, a 25 year old pitcher for the Pittsburg Pirates was lazing around his girlfriend Mimi's LA apartment. He'd been doing what he normally did on his off-days, smoke marijuana, drink screwdrivers, take amphetamines and listen to Hendrix and Iron Butterfly. Not unusually, he did some Purple Haze, LSD. Not great timing, as Mimi, flipping through the newspaper announced, "Dock. It says here you're supposed to be pitching in San Diego." Turns out he'd slept for a day and had 5 hours to wash, fly, get to Jack Murphy stadium, change, and throw something small and hard, in various ways, while 50,000 people watched.
Ellis made it to the ground an hour before the start still under the influence of the acid. He decided to gulp half a dozen amphetamines as a "precautionary measure". Next, as Chuck Brodsky sings on his album 'The Baseball Ballads", "Time came to go on out there/ Down the corridor/The walls were a little bit wavy/There were ripples in the floor". Before taking the mound, Ellis found a female friend in the first row who always supplied him with Benzedrine when he was in town, which he added to his pre-match meal.
After warm-up it was game on. His action was wild. Wilder than usual. Ellis was used to pitching on amphetamines, in fact he depended on them to crank himself up, to the extent that, for 12 years he wouldn't pitch without them. This was different; Ellis actually bounced a few early pitches. Struggling but smiling strangely, he walked 8 batters and hit another, but his manager left him in and he found some kind of rhythm. In Brodsky's words, "Sometimes he saw the catcher/Sometimes he did not/Sometimes he held a beach ball/ Sometimes it was a dot". Ellis didn't bother to follow the score at all and, feeling that his teammates knew that something was up, decided it was advisable to avoid all eye contact with them. Batters would vanish and reappear and while his pitches seemed to be over the plate he couldn't be sure they were reaching. Each pitch had an after burn. Brodsky again: "Dock was tossing comets/ That were leaving trails of glitter/At the 7th inning stretch/He still had a no-hitter". Surviving a scare or two, Ellis got his no hitter and his name and record of the game went to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown.
Ellis could be wild and combative. He once deliberately threw at all the consecutive Cincinnati Reds batters he could as revenge for disrespectful comments, played in curlers after criticism of his hairstyle, and sat in the stands (with a gun in his pocket) amongst hecklers who called him "nigger." He revealed the truth about the San Diego game in 1984. Dock Ellis cleaned up after reading about someone shaking a baby to death, and realizing he couldn't tell how tightly he held his baby son. He is now a drug counsellor.