Baseball Today — March 11, 2007
In the button-downed world of baseball Dock Ellis qualified as a character.
In 1970, he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres and later claimed he performed that day under the influence of LSD. On May 1, 1974, frustrated over how the Cincinnati Reds had manhandled his Pittsburgh Pirates in crucial games over the years, Ellis decided to teach the Big Red Machine a lesson. His idea of a lesson was to start the game with his team one run down and the bases loaded. Ellis hit the the first three Reds--Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen, --he faced in the top of the first, and then walked Tony Perez , who spent most of the at-bat dodging Ellis's pitches.
After Ellis threw two more brushbacks near the head of Johnny Bench , manager Danny Murtaugh removed him from the game. Aside from the antics, the righthander was a solid major league pitcher, despite below average strikeout ratios. He won 19 games for the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971, and 17 games with the American League champion New York Yankees in 1976. He also wrote (with Donald Hall) "In the Country of Baseball", one of the most revealing autobiographies ever to come out of a big-league locker room.
Ellis was born 63 years ago today.