Saturday, December 20, 2008

"What Happened to Yesterday?"

Dock Ellis, a former pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, died yesterday in Los Angeles. Although Ellis won 138 games in his career, including 19 in 1971 for the World Champion Pirates, he is best known for throwing a no-hitter for Pittsburgh a year earlier, in 1970. While on LSD. 

In San Diego to play the Padres, Ellis, who grew up in Los Angeles, left for home two days before his next scheduled start,  June 12. He took some LSD, caught up with some friends, woke up on what he thought was the next morning and took more LSD before his friend's girlfriend told him he had to pitch later that afternoon in San Diego. 

Ellis's classic response? "What happened to yesterday?"

He raced down to San Diego, just in time for the first game of a double-header. Pumped full of amphetamines to help off-set the LSD, Ellis walked eight, hit Padres outfielder Ivan Murrell three times, loaded the bases twice and struck out six, even though, by his own admission, he couldn't make out the batters, only which side of the plate they were standing on. 

Here's Ellis, in his own words:   

"I can only remember bits and pieces.... I was psyched. I had a feeling of euphoria. I was zeroed in on the 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. 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."
And here's a clip of Ellis recounting the whole experience. It's worth watching, if only to soak in Ellis's complete nonchalance about his moment in the technicolored sun and cellophane flowers of yellow and green. 

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