Friday, March 4, 2011

Dock Ellis and the Electric Baseball Game (from High Times)

This is the High Times' magazine classic that has not been available in its entirety since publication in August of 1987. Copyright (C) Eric Brothers. All rights reserved.




I wrote this article in 1987 for High Times. This is a true story that was researched with accounts from the game and reports of Dock Ellis' "confession" in 1986. It's considered famous in Counter-Culture circles and especially with High Times' readers. When it was published, the circulation of High Times was around 250,000. According to High Times' research, at that time each copy of High Times was passed around to four different people; thus it is quite possible that one million people have read "Dock Ellis." It is available all over the internet in snippets, but not in its entirety.

This article--and, of course, the no-hitter--has been the basis of songs by Barbara Manning and the S.F. Seals ("Dock Ellis"), Chuck Brodsky ("Dock Ellis's No No"), Todd Snider ("America's Favorite Pastime"), Zachariah & The Lobos Riders ("Dock Ellis"), a poem by Jill Dybka ("Dock Ellis Pitches a No-No on LSD"), and a comedy routine by Robin Williams, among many other works, since it was published in 1987. There is a rock group that calls themselves "Dock Ellis," as well as a performer who goes by the same name. Other groups that do their own "Dock Ellis" songs are Jacuzzi Boys and Hydrophonic.



Here's how I came to write "Dock Ellis..." It was 1986 and I had a piece published in National Lampoon in April of that year. So I wrote a fictionalized account of an "electric" (acid or LSD) costume party that I had attended called, "The Electric Costume Party." I sent it to National Lampoon in the mail (there was no email yet) and it was rejected.

Putting on my thinking cap, I thought that it might be a good story for High Times. Then I wrote a cover letter and put my typed manuscript in the mail to High Times. A few weeks later I got a phone call from High Times' Executive Editor Steve Hager, who set up a meeting with me in his office. We had a nice informal talk and he agreed to publish my article. We also discussed my writing other pieces for him.

Folk art inspired by Dock Ellis' no-hitter. If anyone knows who the artist is, please contact me so I can give him or her proper credit.

Share this post with your friends of Facebook or Twitter now! The links are in the right-hand column of the blog.


Some time later, I came up with an idea for a story. I called High Times and made an appointment to meet with Hager and then Editor-in-Chief John Howell. I pitched my story idea to both of them. It was a follow-up to "The Electric Costume Party." I called it "The Electric Quarterback." It was a fiction piece about an NFL quarterback who was a backup who never played and was always on the bench. The guy didn't mind after a while and he actually enjoyed it. Why? He dropped acid every Sunday in the locker room and went out to the bench and enjoyed his "trip."

Psychedelic art inspired by the electric no-hitter. If anyone knows who the artist is, please contact me so I can give him or her proper credit.

One Sunday afternoon, however, the starting quarterback broke his leg in a game and the "electric" quarterback had to go into the game tripping his ass off and play the entire game. Hager then said, "What if it was a baseball player who dropped acid and then pitched a no-hitter?" I said, "Nah. That could never happen." Then he told me about Dock Ellis. And that's how I got the assignment to write "Dock Ellis and the Electric Baseball Game." So sit back and enjoy the article, which I believe has never been republished since 1987. This is the first time I am making the article available in its entirety. Please double-click on the pages to make them large enough to read. Copyright (C) Eric Brothers.

Dock Ellis passed away in 2008. I dedicate this blog post to his memory.--E.B.
Copyright (C) Eric Brothers. All rights reserved.



Share this post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter now! The links are on the right-hand column of the blog.

Copyright (C) Eric Brothers. All rights reserved.





Dock Ellis Pitches a No-No on LSD
A Poem by Jilly Dybka

The ball's big—like lobbing a volleyball.
And the batter's box is so far away.
Tiny ball, red ball, white ball, rainbow ball.
Wasn't even supposed to play today.
The batters are whiffing in slow motion
Because their strike zone is five miles wide.
The catcher is wavy like the ocean,
Before my release, have to time the tide.
Straight bat, bendy bat, big bat, little bat.
Feels like I'm pitching inside of a dream.
I'm flying as high as an acrobat,
My fingers feel every stitch in the seam.
I wonder what all the fuss is about?
I'm just trying to get the guy out.

Illustration by Josh Pincus Is Crying

"Dock Ellis" by Zachariah & The Lobos Riders


Copyright (C) Eric Brothers. All rights reserved.
Lyrics to "Dock Ellis" by Barbara Manning
Performed by the S.F. Seals

All in black, a Pirate player
You sure made the press upset
You just told 'em where it's at
P for Pride stood on your cap

Take a trip one summers day
Don't forget, you have to play
Padres knew the no-no ball
Scared the fuck out of 'em all

Watch his wrist as it snaps back
The ball is gone in a flash

Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis

All the Reds came up to bat
You hit 'em hard, you laid them flat
Next was Pete, he smiled at you
You hit him, too, he rolled it back

Watch his wrist as it snaps back
The ball is gone in a flash

Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
All in black, a Pirate player
You sure made the press upset
You just told 'em where it's at
P for Pride stood on your cap

Take a trip one summers day
Don't forget, you have to play
Padres knew the no-no ball
Scared the fuck out of 'em all

Watch his wrist as it snaps back
The ball is gone in a flash

Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis

All the Reds came up to bat
You hit 'em hard, you laid them flat
Next was Pete, he smiled at you
You hit him, too, he rolled it back

Watch his wrist as it snaps back
The ball is gone in a flash

Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis
Ooh, Dock Ellis

Dock Ellis autographed a ball from the "no-no" and dated it 6-12-70.
Copyright (C) Eric Brothers. All rights reserved.


Dock Ellis’s No-No
Music and Lyrics by Chuck Brodsky
It was a lovely summer’s morning
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say
His girlfriend read the paper
She said, “Dock, this can’t be right...
It says here that you’re pitching
In San Diego tonight”

“Got to get you to the airport”
And so off Dock Ellis flew
His legs were a little bit wobbly
And the rest of him was too
Took a taxi to the ballpark
An hour before the game
Gave some half-assed explanation
Found the locker with his name

Time came to go on out there
Down the corridor
The walls were a little bit wavy
There were ripples in the floor
He went out to the bullpen
To do a bunch of stretches
Loosen up a little
Throw his warm-up pitches

All rose for the national anthem
People took off their hats
Fireworks were exploding
The cokes were already going flat
Dock was back there in the dugout
So many things to watch
Some players spit tobacco juice
Others grabbed their crotch

The umpire hollered, “Play Ball!”
And so it came to be
Dock’s Pirates batted first
And when they went down 1-2-3
Dock’s catcher put his mask on
And he handed Dock the ball
It was 327 feet
To the right & left field walls

The Pirates took the field then
And Dock stood on the rubber
He bounced a couple of pitches
And then he bounced a couple others
You might say about that day
He looked a little wild
The lead-off batter trembled
Nobody knew why Dock Ellis smiled

You walk 8 and you hit a guy
The things that people shout...
Especially your manager
But he didn’t take Dock out
Dock found himself a rythym
And a crazy little spin
Amazing things would happen
When Dock Ellis zeroed in

Sometimes he saw the catcher
Sometimes he did not
Sometimes he held a beach balll
Other times it was a dot
Dock was tossing comets
That were leaving trails of glitter
At the 7th inning stretch
He still had a no-hitter

So he turned to Cash, his buddy
Said, “I got a no-no going”
Speaking the unspeakable
He went back out there throwing
Bottom of the ninth
& He stood high upon the mound
3 more outs to go
He’d have his name in Cooperstown

First up was Cannizzaro
Who flied out to Alou
Kelly grounded out for Dean
The shortstop yelled, “That’s two”
It must’ve been a mad house
The fans upon their feet
The littler ones among them
Standing on their seats

Next up would’ve been Herbel
But Spezio pinch-hit
He took a 3rd strike looking
And officially, that was it
It was a lovely summer’s morning
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say




Todd Snider "America's Favorite Pastime"


dock ellis didn't think he would pitch that day
back in 1970
when he and his wife took a trip to the ballpark
a little bit differently
so by the time he hit the bullpen
half the world had melted away
thats about the time coach murtaugh said
hey dock you're pitching today

taking the ground the mound turned into
the icing on a birthday cake
the lead-off man came up and turned into
a dancing rattle snake
the crowd tracked back and forth
in waves of color under the sun
the ball turned into a silver bullet
his arm into a gun

i took a look all around the world one time
finally discovered
you can't judge a book

three up three down for three straight innings
in a zero zero tie
as all those batters names came ringing
from some voice out of the sky
hallucinating halloween scenes
each new swing of the bat
his sinker looked like it was falling off a table
but nobody was hallucinating that

i took a look all around the world one time
finally discovered
you cant judge a book

by the top of the fifth he was up one to nothing
and giving the padres fits
by the top of the seventh he was up two to nothing
and they still hadn't got any hits
with one out left to go in the game
the batter looked like a little child
the birthday caking was shaking
and those waves of color were going wild

when he finally mowed the last man down
he was high as he had ever been
laughing to the sound of the world going around
completely unaware of the win
and while the papers would say he was scattered that day
he was pretty as a pitcher could be
the day dock ellis of the pittsburg pirates
threw a no hitter on lsd

i took a look all around the world one time
finally discovered
you cant judge a book


Dock Ellis (1945-2008) R.I.P.







3 comments:

  1. thanks, excited, but too small cant even read it

    ReplyDelete
  2. PLEASE DOUBLE-CLICK ON THE PAGES AND THEY WILL GET BIG ENOUGH TO READ! THANKS!

    ReplyDelete

I look forward to reading your comments.