While LSD has a healthy rep for inspiring great art (e.g., R. Crumb, Ken Kesey, the Beatles) and great science (Francis Crick deduced the double-helix structure of DNA while tripping), it’s rarely considered much of a sports enhancer — with one important exception.
On June 12, 1970, formidable yet eccentric Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis notched one of the major leagues’ 263 no-hitters, against the Padres, while high as the proverbial kite on acid and benzedrine. Ellis, who died in December, recounted the amazing story behind his achievement on NPR last year. His account inspired artist James Blagden to create this awesome animated video about that fateful day.
More than a fine right arm (teammate Dave Parker called him, “without question the most intimidating pitcher of his era”) and Hendrix-loving acid head, Ellis was virulently anti-racist and would head into the stands upon hearing the n-word. After initially refusing to play baseball in high school because a white player had called him “spearchucker,” Ellis was forced onto the team after being caught drinking wine in the locker room. (You can read a terrific account of Ellis’s remarkable career here.) And while he may have been a party animal, he never bottomed out. After leaving the majors, Ellis cleaned up and became a drug counselor. He even worked briefly for George Steinbrenner as a drug counselor in the minor leagues. Steinbrenner. Now there’s a guy that could have used a good dose.