On June 12th of 1970, 25-year-old Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw the first no-hitter of the season while blanking the Padres 2-0 in San Diego, walking eight and hitting one batter.
Fourteen years later, in April of 1984, Ellis revealed that he’d been on LSD while tossing the no-no.
He’s happy to tell you all about it:
The veracity of the claim has been disputed over the years — most notably in Ellis’ 1976 biography, Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball, in which biographer Donald Hall writes the hurler had been drinking vodka before throwing his no-hitter, not dropping doses — and it came under fire again today.
During an interview with the Toucher and Rich program on 98.5 The Sports Hub, former major league pitcher and counterculture icon Bill “The Spaceman” Lee, a contemporary of Dock’s who pitched for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos, said Ellis was flat-out lying.
“He never took LSD and pitched. No. When his lips were moving, he was lying,” Lee said. “He was probably on speed or something else … If he was on LSD, he would’ve been standing on that mound and that ball never would’ve left his fingers. You can’t. Trust me, with Doc Ellis, when his lips are moving, he’s lying.”
The interview turned to Ellis after Lee revealed he’d once had hash thrown at him while playing for the Expos. One of the hosts remarked that Dock might have enjoyed that experience as well. The lanky lefty agreed, but quickly said he and Ellis were not kindred spirits, and added that he’d never believed the righty’s assertion that he’d taken LSD on that fateful Friday in June.
Lee — who graced the cover of cannabis culture mag High Times three times during his playing career — went on to recount his own experiences of taking mescaline before speaking with Peter Gammons as well as rolling joints for the longtime baseball scribe in the ‘70s.
The full interview is available here (the Dock talk starts around the 9:00 mark).