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Dock Ellis

One of the leading pitchers for the Pittsburg Pirates and the New York Yankees, Dock Ellis was 63 when he passed away in Los Angeles after a battle with a long addiction to drugs and alcohol. According to his wife, Ellis died of cirrhosis of the liver in December, 2008. He was on the waiting list for a liver transplant but hear problems made the transplant impossible.


Dock Ellis

Dock Ellis' unusual first name came from the fact that his father wanted him to be a doctor when he grew up and the name would serve as inspiration. The "k" was added to his name at some point, though it is not sure when that came about.

Over his career, Ellis won 138 games and was the 1971 starting pitcher for the National League at the All-Star Game. His 12 year career was covered in glory, but it was also tarnished with many bizarre incidents that occurred on and off the field mostly due to his drinking and taking of drugs.

According to his 1976 biography, "Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball", the no-hitter he threw in 1970 against the Padres had been preceded by the use of LSD because he was not expecting to pitch the first game. Upon realization that he would be going to the mound sooner than expected, he took a round of amphetamines to kill the effects of the LSD.


Ellis' career had taken a number of turns, one of the most interesting was just before the 1971 All Star Game when he proclaimed that the NL manager would not start him because Vida Blue would be starting for the American League and "they wouldn't pitch two brothers against each other" referring to the color of Blue's skin. Ellis started anyway and gave up a big home run to Reggie Jackson.

Ellis' antics continued throughout his career, including the time he struck three Cincinnati batters in a row citing that two years earlier he had been disrespected by the Reds organization after they had made disparaging remarks about the Pirates. During the 1973 season, Ellis would wear hair curlers which allowed the sweat off his neck to be used for spitballs.

Ellis helped the Pirates win the World Series in 1971 and helped lead the Yankees to the 1976 World Series where they were defeated by the Reds. Ellis played for three more teams before retiring in 1979 with a record of 138 - 119.


The full story of Dock Ellis' drug abuse first became public knowledge in 1985 when he told a reporter for the Los Angeles Times that he began using drugs as a teenager and then progressed to alcohol when he joined the minor leagues. He also claimed that every game he pitched in the majors that he was high on drugs.

After leaving baseball he entered a substance-abuse treatment center located in Arizona and then began working as a drug and alcohol counselor while living in California. The Yankees actually hired Ellis in the 1980s to speak about substance abuse to those in the minor league, hoping that the lessons he learned would be passed on to a new generation.


 
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