The use of drugs in sports isn’t new. Numerous athletes use various substances, some for the fun of it and others because of addiction. For Dock Ellis, it was the latter, and he was outspoken about his drug abuse habits.
In one of the biggest moments of his career, Ellis said he was on LSD when he registered a no-hitter, but some disputed his version of events. Despite this, he had a successful career.
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Dock Ellis’ Start
Dock Ellis was born in California and in school, played multiple sports. He was a basketballer and even played at the semi-professional level.
He had been asked to play for the baseball team and refused because one of the team players racially insulted him.
However, this changed after he was caught smoking weed in school and playing baseball was his punishment.
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As a Los Angeles Harbor College player, Dock Ellis received several college offers but waited for the Pittsburgh Pirates to go in for him. However, he spent his early years playing for the minor league sides of the team.
He said he played in the minor league because the team didn’t want to annoy fans by having another African-American man on the side. He also stated that he got placed in the Southern League because he kept long hair and after cutting it, he was taken back to the minor league.
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Major League Baseball
Dock Ellis eventually made his way into the MLB. In 1968, he debuted for the team as a pitcher before being moved to the starting rotation.
One of the biggest moments of his career came in 1970 when he made a no-hitter and later revealed that he was on LSD. He shared this in regret, as he said he couldn’t recall the moment.
However, this narrative was disputed, as journalists close to the team couldn’t get his teammates to corroborate the story. The rest of the 1970 season was uneventful.
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Winning the World Series
The following season, Ellis showed what he was made of, as he got the pitching position in the team. He was part of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and was the starting pitcher and lost. However, he made amends in the next game against the San Francisco Giants.
The team qualified for the World Series and Ellis couldn’t contribute much due to elbow pain. That notwithstanding, the Pirates won the World Series, the only year Dock Ellis won it. In the subsequent years, the baseballer produced memorable performances but was also involved in several scandals.
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He joined the New York Yankees and later Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers before returning to the Pirates. He retired in 1979 and said he lost interest. After, he was forced into drug treatment and later worked as a counselor.
Ellis also worked as a player-coach for the St. Petersburg Pelicans. In 1999, he was listed in the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals. He passed away in 2008 from liver complications.
Dock Ellis is a man who seemingly did what pleased him. He wasn’t afraid of speaking his mind, even though he paid the price for this. He was a controversial figure but also one who added some excitement to it.
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