June 14, 2015


A pitcher who throws a no hitter at the major league level is praised for his excellent performance, his command of his pitchers, and possibly stellar defense for his cause. However, there is no incident in MLB history which throws the norms out the window.

On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis was unprepared to pitch against the San Diego Padres for one simple reason. He thought it was still June 11.

Ellis played in for five different clubs from 1968 through 1979. In his MLB career, he had a 138–119 record  a 3.46 ERA and 1,136 strike outs.

But on June 12, 1970, Ellis claimed that he threw a no-hitter while under the influence of the drug, LSD.  Reporters at the game said they do not believe his claim.

Ellis no hit the Padres 2-0 on Friday, June 12, 1970 in the first game of doubleheader.  The Pirates flew to San Diego on Thursday, June 11 for a series against the Padres. Ellis reported that he visited a friend in Los Angeles and used LSD "two or three times." Thinking it was still Thursday, he took a hit of LSD on Friday at noon, and his friend's girlfriend reminded him at 2:00 PM that he was scheduled to pitch that night. Ellis flew from Los Angeles to San Diego at 3:00 PM and arrived at San Diego Stadium at 4:30 PM; the game started at 6:05 PM.

Ellis said he threw the no-hitter despite being unable to feel the ball or see the batter or catcher very well. "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." Ellis said his catcher Jerry May wore reflective tape on his fingers which helped him to see May's signals. Ellis walked eight batters and struck out six Padres.
The game might have seemed like hours, or seconds: Ellis would later say he lost all concept of time. But when it ended, the Padres hadn't been able to touch him. He had pitched a no-hitter on acid.
At first, Ellis was gleeful about the incident. He related the story to author Donald Hall, who was co-writing his autobiography, Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball, but was talked out of publishing it for fear it would blemish the League. (Instead, when the book was published said he pitched the game while hungover.)

The lore of baseball has been scattered with stories of hard driving, hard driving, womanizing and crazy men playing a child's game. Perhaps in 20 years, there will be former players who will confess in their autobiographies to their drug induced baseball careers.