Remembering Dock Ellis

Giambi market taking shape
Jeter's speech tabbed as MLB.com's Moment of the Year

Dock Ellis, a pitcher famous for reportedly tossing a no-hitter while on LSD, passed away yesterday. He’ll be remembered for his battles with drug addictions and subsequent anti-drug activism, but for a brief moment in time, he was a member of the Yankees.

In a way, Dock Ellis was an incidental and accidental piece of the Yankees’ late-1970s success. He was on the Yanks for all of 1976 and 19.2 innings in 1977. Along the way, he was involved in two instrumental trades and had a season quite odd in the annals of baseball.

The 1976 season saw George Steinbrenner‘s passion for winning build. Following a third-place finish in 1975, he retooled the Yanks by bringing in Ellis, Willie Randolph and Ken Brett in exchange for Doc Medich. Ellis would win 17 games in 1976 but also managed to pull off the rare feat of walking more hitters than he struck out. His only World Series appearance that year was an ugly start in Game 3.

A few weeks into the 1977 season, Ellis, persona non grata around the Yanks due to his drug problems, was shipped off to the Athletics in exchange for Mike Torrez. Torrez would go onto win 14 games for the Yanks and two more in the World Series that year.

I never got to see Dock Ellis pitch. He was on the Yanks before I was born, and all I know of him come through stories. Jay Jaffe, however, saw and loved Ellis. Check out his take on the former Yankee and one-time troubled baseball soul.

Giambi market taking shape
Jeter's speech tabbed as MLB.com's Moment of the Year
  • The Evil Dynasty

    RIP

  • J

    “Dock Ellis in the country of baseball” was an enjoyable book about the outspoken pitcher. I’ve still yet to find the episode of Costas Now that played the only footage of Doc’s LSD no hitter, so if you have it let me know in the comments!

    • Nay-Nay

      I’m sure your facts are wrong, Dock never played for the Angels!!!
      He was traded to the Rangers in 77 because of his mouth not drugs.

  • Rich

    How many of you remember that Dock was in a 1986 movie called “Gung Ho” also starring Michael Keaton?

  • Luke S.

    I saw Ellis pitch in Oakland (yes, I’ve been a Yankee fan in exile for that long), and what I remember was a disctinct lack of windup. He’d lean back, raise his leg, lunge and fire. All he did that day was pound the strike zone, get ahead of nearly every hitter … the count on the A’s batters was always 0-1, 1-2. He left with the game tied, and a Roy White 2-run single in a 4-run ninth made Dick Tidrow a winner that May afternoon.

    Dock’s main thing was that he was part of one of the great trades in Yankee history (courtesy of Gabe Paul): a fading Doc Medich to the Pirates for Ken Brett, one very productive year of Dock Ellis and minor league second baseman Willie Randolph.

  • ortforshort

    The no-hitter on LSD thing is a bunch of crap. He wouldn’t have been able to find the dugout let alone home plate and throw a ball over it. Ellis got a bad rap from the media back then. It was a racially charged era and the media villified any black man who spoke his mind – far more than it does now. Ellis was actually a nice, friendly guy who people around him really liked – but you’d never know it from the way he was portrayed by the press back then. Too bad the real Ellis was never covered by the press, it would have been a treat for the fans

  • http://audiodocumentary.org/ Dan

    I heard a great story about the LSD no-hitter on audiodocumentary.org