53 Years Ago Today, Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher Dock Ellis Threw A No-Hitter Under The Influence Of LSD

All manner of pro athletes are coming out with admissions that they smoked weed before or during this or that game, but no one comes close to Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dock Ellis who pitched a no-hitter while tripping on acid.

It was on this date in 1970 that Dock Ellis struck out or walked every Padres’ batter at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego while stoned on LSD.

What Happened? He Got His Days Mixed Up

Following a Wednesday game in San Francisco, the team had a day off on Thursday to fly to San Diego for a Friday game against the Pirates.

Ellis decided to use his day off to drive to his hometown of Los Angeles so he rented a car and then dropped a tab of acid. When he arrived at a friend’s house, she asked “What’s wrong with you?” To which he replied, “I’m as high as a Georgia pine.” 

His girlfriend also showed up and they all partied the night away. After a cat nap, Ellis thought it was still Thursday and that he had a full day to recover before the Friday game in San Diego, so he decided to drop another hit of acid at about 12:00 noon. An hour later, his girlfriend asked him if was aware that he had to pitch the first game of a doubleheader that day at 6:00 PM.

Ellis shot out of the house and managed to get to San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium with less than an hour before the first pitch. He tried to straighten up but there really wasn’t much he could do, so he went with the flow.

“I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria,” Dock Ellis said when he finally came clean with the story years later. 

“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,” Ellis said.

“Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him.”

As his memory of that night became clearer, or at least what he was able to glean from his psychedelics-induced mind included thinking that he was pitching to Jimi Hendrix who was holding his guitar instead of a bat.

Clearly, Ellis was hallucinating but somehow he still managed to pitch a no-hitter.

He walked eight Padres’ batters, struck out six, allowed several stolen bases and smacked one batter. The Pirates won the game that day, 2-0, thanks to Ellis, LSD and Willie Stargell’s two solo homers.

NPR’s Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel interviewed Ellis about the LSD no-no. They used the audio of him as narration for an award-winning short film released after Ellis passed away in 1984.    

The interview confirmed the legend’s unabashed feelings about LSD.  

“It was easier to pitch with the LSD because I was so used to medicating myself. That’s the way I was dealing with the fear of failure. The fear of losing, the fear of winning. It was part of the game. You get to the major leagues and you say ‘I gotta stay here. What do I need?’” he asked. LSD was apparently the answer for Dock Ellis.

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