–A Truly Bizarre Tale–
Pitching a no-hit game in baseball is an extremely rare and difficult thing to do.
In fact, only 279 major league games have been no-hitters since baseball’s inception in 1875, an average of only two per year.
You’ve heard all too much about performance enhancing drugs from baseball greats like Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, and Barry Bonds. Of the all the no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, one can only guess how many were aided by steroids.
Pittsburgh Pirate Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter against the Padres on June 12, 1970, under the influence of LSD. He threw a no-hitter despite being unable to feel the ball or see the batter or catcher clearly.
As he recounted:
I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria.
I was zeroed in on the catcher’s glove, but I didn’t hit the glove too much. I remember hitting a couple of batters, and the bases were loaded two or three times.
The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes, I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder.
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.
Ellis pulled it off, apparently with flying colors and light trails. He walked eight batters, struck out six, and beaned a few. The Pirates won the game, 2-0. And we would have thought acid to be a performance inhibitor.
Ellis reported that he never used LSD during the season again, though he continued to use amphetamines.
After suffering through substance abuse problems most of his life, he entered a drug treatment program and remained sober in his later years, working as a drug abuse counselor for prisoners and baseball players.
Dock Ellis died of cirrhosis of the liver in 2008 at the age of 63, a condition weakened by years of abuse and a previous heart attack.
The above 4-minute clip is an interview he gave to radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel, airing on NPR’s Weekend America a year before he passed, set to animation by artist James Blagden.