An unbelievable victory. Pitching a no-hitter in a national baseball game. For The Pittsburgh Pirates-a team that willingly admits it’s from Pittsburgh. All on an acid trip.
This isn’t your college buddy bragging about how he had a trip where he thought he was Wolverine and tore up your midterm-this was Dock Ellis, pitcher with two world series wins, civil rights advocate, and frequent substance abuser. He was called the Muhammad Ali of baseball.
He didn’t need steroids. He wasn’t no bitch like Barry Bonds. This man played an MLB game high as a kite, not pumped up like a freak. He remembers little from the game, but what he does is golden:
“…I had a feeling of euphoria….The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t…I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate…”
God damn that’s cool. Nixon and Hendrix? Of course Nixon would play empire: he always looked the other way during a fair call.
Hendrix at bat is just plain awesome.
However, a Deadspin investigation acknowledges that there are skeptics out there. According to the article, not one teammate could confirm that Ellis was high, or even showed any indications of being high. Also, it would be really, really hard to concentrate on one task while on acid-how can you play ball if a sixty foot pink, talking tarantula is telling you to run around naked?
Then again, Ellis was a man of habit-booze, pills, babes, and baseball. He was damn good at all of those things. A more plausible theory is that he was coming down from a trip, and, to avoid the crash, popped some amphetamines. Think a high school student pulling an all nighter, with a handful of addy.
Furthermore, LSD is a good way to get better at sports: It can make your reflexes rapid, maintain perfect balance, and increase stamina. Those side effects make a very strong case that Ellis was tripping out.
Alas, in the age of YouTube, there is no footage of this event. None. However, another expert on illegal substances (ahem, Robin Williams) has an informative lecture about what Ellis may have experienced.
Either way, Pittsburgh has at least one thing interesting thing to say about their team. That’s more than Pittsburgh has to say about Pittsburgh. Know more.