On June 12, 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander
pitched a no-hitter in a
. In an interview 14 years later, Ellis stated that he had dropped acid before the game and was tripping the entire time. The claim might have seemed farfetched coming from another player. But Ellis, who died last year of alcoholism-related liver disease, was one of baseball's fiercest competitors and most dedicated eccentrics, prone to outrages on and off the field. In 1972, he was maced during an altercation with a security guard at Riverfront Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Reds. Two years later, Ellis was removed from a game against the Reds in the top of the first inning after attempting to hit every batter he faced. The two incidents were apparently unrelated.
Ellis' LSD no-hitter, though, is his most folkloric achievement—a piece of Nixon-era Americana that has been celebrated in
, in the
, and in
. And now, in animated film. "Dock Ellis & the LSD No-No," a new four-and-a-half minute short by the artist
, combines narration by Ellis himself (taken from a
), with Blagden's vivid pen-and-ink-style animation, and funky blaxploitation ambience. As a work of art, it's a delight. (I especially love the scene where Ellis and his teammates stand open-mouthed beneath a rainstorm of "greenies"—green Dexamyl tablets, ballplayers' amphetamine of choice in those days.) As cultural history, it's eye-opening: a reminder to belly-aching baseball declensionists that drugs, recreational and performance-enhancing, have been floating around our national pastime for decades.