If Dock’s pitching you know he’s high. How high is he?
[[Okay, I know the first three posts for this series were long reads, but I promise that most are going to be much shorter. I also feel the need to point out that shorter posts don’t mean I enjoyed the movies less, I just didn’t have as much to say.]]
Dock Ellis is the guy who pitched a no-hitter on LSD.
That’s the sort of insane baseball anecdote that becomes a legend in itself. His life was obviously far larger than just that one moment, but when you perform one of the rarer feats in sports while tripping on acid, that’s bound to become the headline for your life story.
No No obviously gets into the details of that crazy game, but it focuses far more on the rest of Dock’s life.
Ellis was famous in his day. He was one of the best pitchers in the game when baseball was still king of American sports, which guaranteed you at least minor celebrity status.
He was an outspoken, intelligent, media-savvy Black man in the 60s and 70s, a time when Black players were expected to keep their mouths shut and do their jobs. (It’s refreshing that the sports landscape is so different today. That players of color are seen as full human people, encouraged to speak their minds when something matters to them… wait, nope, check that; it’s still the same bullshit.)
For real though, the guy was even better at playing the media than he was at playing baseball, and he was really good at baseball. If you get a hand-written letter from Jackie Robinson telling you how important you are to the game, you’re definitely doing something right.
It’s a tragedy that we never got to see what his story might have looked like if his addictions hadn’t controlled his life for so long. Fortunately, his story continued after he entered recovery.
No No is a great documentary about a fascinating, flawed man. It keeps the streak rolling as the third film in a row that I’d highly recommend. It’s included with an Amazon Prime subscription, or at least it is at the time of publishing this.
Next up: 61*, the story of the 1961 race between Yankee teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, as each tries to break Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs hit in a single season. It’s an HBO original film, thus, you can find it on HBO if you want to join in.