Mar 8, 2016

The Wild Career of One Time Mets Pitcher: Dock Ellis (1979)

Dock Phillip Ellis was born March 11, 1945 in Los Angeles California. The six foot three right handed pitcher was an outspoken controversial figure during his baseball career & makes for some good stories as well. No matter what he certainly had some good years pitching as well. Ellis was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1964 after winning double figures twice in the minor leagues he was up in the majors by 1968.


That year he was called up in June and did not make his first star until mid August finishing the year at 6-5 with a 2.50 ERA. By 1970 the Pirates were a dominant force in the National League. They won three straight divisional titles, one World Series & were defeated twice in the LCS by the Cincinnati Reds- Big Red Machine. In 1970 Ellis was 13-10, tops among the starters on his staff pitching 201 innings with 138 strike outs and a 3.21 ERA (7th in the NL).

On June 12th 1970 he was hanging out in his hometown of Los Angeles with his friends and decided to tale LSD. hen his girlfriend read the newspaper she found out Ellis was scheduled to pitch that night. He hopped a shuttle to nearby San Diego and prepared to pitch. By now the LSD took effect he was tripping, couldn't feel the baseball & couldn't see the batters clearly.

That night his catcher was Jerry May, who would play briefly for the 1973 Mets, & he helped out Dock by wearing reflective tape on his fingers. That night although he walked eight batters and was helped out by two fine defensive plays from Bill Mazeroski & Matty Alou, he threw a no hitter defeating the San Diego Padres.

Quotes: Dock Ellis- 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. 

They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me.

Post Season: In the 1970 NLCS he matched zeros with the Cincinnati Reds Gary Nolan for nine innings in Game #1 at Three Rivers Stadium. The Reds went on to win the game in extra innings when reserve player Ty Cline triples & Pete Rose drove him in for the first of three Reds runs in the 10th inning.


In 1971 he had his finest season, after a 3-3 start he went on to win 13 straight games from May through late July. In that time he threw five complete games including a three hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals & an eight hit shutout against the New York Mets.

He was the starting pitcher in the classic 1971 NL All Star Game, which featured 20 future Hall of Famers. Ellis first two innings went well, then in the third Oakland's Reggie Jackson blasted a mammoth HR over the Tiger Stadium roof hitting a transformer. Three batters later Frank Robinson hit another HR making it 4-0 American League. Ellis was the losing pitcher in the game & it would be last time the AL won an All Star game for another dozen years. 

On the season Ellis was 19-9 (5th most wins in the NL) with a 3,06 ERA, he struck out 137 batters in 226 innings pitched while walking 63 & throwing eleven complete games. In the NLCS he was the winning pitcher in Game #2 against the San Francisco Giants beating John Cumberland 9-4. In the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Ellis started Game #1 and was beaten by Dave McNally 5-3. Although the Pirates went on to win one of their two World Championships in seventies, Ellis did not pitch in anymore games that Series.

In 1972 he went 15-7 with a 2.70 ERA (9th in the NL). Ellis allowed the fewest HRs in the league per nine innings over that season & the next as well as averaging less than two walks per game. 

Post Season: In the NLCS against the Big Red Machine he was the losing pitcher in Game #4 allowing three runs in five innings.


The NLCS had drama for Ellis when he was given a hard time trying to get into the ballpark. After the situation heated up he was maced by security guards afer he had raised his fist to them. Ellis later claimed he was showing his World Series ring on his finger to prove he was a member of the Pirates. He vowed to hit every batter in the Reds line up in the future to retaliate against the Reds.

Sure enough in May 1974 he did just that, hitting Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, & Dan Driessan. Tony Perez avoided getting hit & drew a walk scoring a run. Ellis then threw at the head of Johnny Bench & was removed from the game.

Personal issues & arm issues contributed to Ellis falling to 12-14 in 1973 as the Pirates lost their three year NL Eastern Champion reign to the New York Mets. 

In 1974 he was 12-9 then falling to 8-9 the next year. In 1975 he was traded along with a young Willie Randolph & Ken Brett to the AL New York team for Doc Medich. Ellis won the Player of the Year award going 17-8 (8th most wins in the AL ) posting a 3.19 ERA. When he faced off against Reggie Jackson who was playing with Baltimore that season, he threw at his head hitting him in the face in retaliation for the 1971 All Star Game HR.

In the ALCS he allowed three first inning runs to the Kansas City Royals in Game #4 but settled in to roll along for eight innings earning the 5-3 win.

In the World Series the Red got their revenge clobbering him for four runs on seven hits in just 3.1 inning sof work in Game # on their way to the four game series sweep. 

In 1977 he was Traded with Larry Murray and Marty Perez to the Oakland A's for Mike Torrez. Then after seven games his contact was purchased by the Texas Rangers.

He went 10--6 in 1977 at Texas as the Rangers finished up in second place. In the following season he was 9-7. Ellis had more drama in Texas when he got the players to revolt against manager Billy Hunter. He said "Hunter may be Hitler but he ain't making no lampshade out of me". On the June 15th trade deadline, Ellis was sent to the New York Mets for Bob Myrick & Mike Bruhert.

Ellis made his Mets debut in Houston pitching six innings avowing just two runs but earned no decision in the Mets 3-2 loss. His next start was at Three Rivers Stadium against his old Pirates team mates who were on their way to another World Series title. 

Ellis again earned no decsion in the Mets 12-9 win. He had pitched six innings allowing just two earned runs. In his next two starts he was hit hard allowing over five runs both times, taking losses to the Phillies & Padres. 

On June 12th he beat the reigning NL Champion Dodgers at Shea Stadium pitching into the 8th inning. On July 27th Ellis pitched a complete game but lost to the Chicago Cubs 4-2. In August he would go 1-3 having a horrible outing on the 1st, giving up seven runs on ten hits to the Phillies in just three innings.

He beat the Expos in Montreal & then beat the Pirates pitching three innings of relief on September 8th. On September 19th he made his last appearance with the Mets pitching two innings of scoreless relief. Later that week his contract was purchased by the Pirates & he ended his career in Pittsburgh playing in three games seeing no post season action. In his brief two months Mets career Ellis was 3-7 with a 5.77 ERA in 17 appearances.

In his 12 season career he was 138-119 with 1136 strike outs 674 walks a 3.46 ERA pitching in 1430 innings over 345 games with 14 shut outs & 71 complete games. 

After his playing career the LSD story came out in 1984. Prioir to that the rest of the baseball world didn't know he was tripping during the 1970 no hitter. 

Passing: He became a drug counselor in the Los Angeles area but passed away in 2008 from cirrhosis of the liver. He was 63 years old.

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