Not Past It - The LSD No-Hitter

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Running out of the scoreboard.

You can see 000 where it says San Diego.

Now, Doc Ellis comes down.

He’s fine side ball, just off the bill of the cap.

When the year is 1970, Dock Ellis is on the mound, pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.


He’s got his cap on his curls, peeking out the side, and he’s chewing a piece of bubble gum to a pulp.

He’s facedown batter after batter of the opposing, San Diego Padres, and they haven’t gotten ahead.

Well, the doc he isn’t exactly in his right mind.


There were times when the ball was hit, back at me.

Look, big as a balloon and then sometimes look small on June 12th, 1970. 51 years ago.

This week doc Ellis was written into sports history as the pitcher who threw a no-hitter.


While tripping on LSD, excuse me, what’s wrong with you?

Awesome high as a Georgia person from gimlet media.

This is not past it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind.

I’m Simone palana in every episode.


We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.


We’re revisiting this trippy day in baseball history.

Tell you about sports and drugs and the lengths were willing to go to, to avoid failure, that’s coming up.


I need you to say your name and said my name is my name is Doc Phillip Ellis jr.

Better known as the first militant of professional baseball.

I love the way doc introduces himself.

I feel like I know all I need to know about who he is and how he carries himself in the world, but this is not my interview with Doc that was broadcast on weakened America, and 2008 doc was in his 60s.


He passed away, almost nine months later and even in his Age doc, comes off as a badass.

Supposedly, when he gave this interview.

He answered the door in a bathrobe.

Who does that?

There’s no other way to put it, DOC was fucking cool.


But even before that famous LSD, no, no, as Doc’s, no-hitter would come to be called for him.

The relationship between sports and drugs was intertwined.

Even in the beginning, growing up in Los Angeles, California, I knew about I drugs, I had seen drugs and played around with him.


And I knew what they, what they were.

This was back in the early 60s, the Mad Men era, you know, back when they called weed, dope, and Bonanza was dominating Sunday night TV, young doc was growing up in LA and he remembers taking a handful of pills while playing basketball.


All right, drop three or four, Red Devils, a drink, a half, a bottle, Thunderbird way, and I laid the ball up and there was the basket right in my face.

I said, oh man, I’m way up here everybody how to dunk it doctor.

No matter what was in his system.


It was clear, doc, was a natural athlete and people began to take notice.

Especially when he was playing baseball.

I’m 15. 16 years of a plan with me and throwing a ball through the cement wall.

They see that youngster, throw that ball.


Let him keep on growing it.

And then at 18 and 1964, doc signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates and started playing with one of their minor league teams, but doc didn’t stop using drugs while playing professional baseball.


He says smoking marijuana.

Helped his game.

Oh, I can smoke dope and run all day long.

They want me to run.

He’ll I run all day.

Give me the joint.

Let me smoke a joint.

They say I just say go get Doc and tell him to stop.

Top running because I’d be high be tripping on it.


Doc played in the minor leagues for five years until the spring of 1968 when he was called up to pitch for the Pirates in the majors.

And he just played fine.

Nothing that exciting until June of 1970.


Until that miraculous drug-induced game.

That would change his entire Legacy the LSD?

No, no game, but the story of that game actually starts a couple of days earlier when OCH realizes that he’ll be pitching in San Diego and he’ll be close to his hometown of La.


I asked the manager.

Could I go home because we had an off day and they normally that you go home if you’re in the area.

So he said, yeah, and Doc he took this opportunity to let loose.

So I took some LSD at the airport when I took off with the car, because I knew where it would hit me.


I’d be in my own little area and I know where to go.

Doc taking acid.

It wasn’t that out of the blue for him or in general around that time in the late, 60s and early 70s LSD had entered the mainstream with things like the Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds movie, Easy Rider and the book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.


So dr.

K, hit when he landed in San Diego Then he rented a car and drove to La.

So that’s how I got to my friends girlfriends house.

And she said, what’s wrong?

Would you come high as a Georgia Pine at some point during docs Acid trip, he falls asleep for a nap when he wakes up.


He takes even more acid, but that nap was quite a bit longer than he thought and his friend’s girlfriend.

Let him know.

She told me you better get up.

You gotta go pitch.

I said piss I pitched.

Tomorrow, he’ll what are you talking about?

Because I had got up in the middle of the morning.


It took some more acid and she grabbed the paper brought me the sports page and showed me.


I said, wow, what happened to you yesterday?

Can you imagine waking up on a day that you think is your day off only to find out that you need to be at work in a matter of hours and work is in another city in front of a crowd of thousands.


So Doc says he races to the airport and flies from La back to San Diego.

He gets to the stadium heads to the locker room.

I was just trying to get to the ballpark yo, and get dressed, hurry up and get dressed, and get out of people’s way because I’m high as a kite.

But before the game starts doc, decides, he needs a little pick-me-up.


There was a lady down there, in San Diego.

Used to always have the Benny’s for me, which is another, stimulant Pennies.

A slang for Benzedrine.

It’s an amphetamine, you know speed.

So I went up to the Dugout and reached up because she was standing over the rail.

She always stood of the rail and had a pretty little gold pouch.


So I got to Vinnie’s, took them.

My eyes will pop out of my head and two and that bubble gum like, it would like, would turn to powder.

Doc is now amped up and head straight for the pitching mound and they say, well, you better go over there and then warm up.


So I said, oh yeah, that’s right.

I had forgot.

You had to warm up.

Well, here we are.

The game begins and the bottom of the first inning, doc faces, the Padres leadoff batter.

It’s raining a light, Misty.



And the LSD is doing some weird things to his vision when I was pitching.

I Hitters, all I could tell was if there was on the right side or the left side as for seeing the target to catch you put tape on his fingers so I can see the signal.


When you take LSD the normal rhythms of your brain, get out of sync.

It varies for every person but it can sometimes lead to weird misperceptions and out-of-this-world hallucinations and Doc seems to be getting a good dose of both.

Both there were times when the ball was hit back at me.


I jumped because I thought it was coming fast, but the ball was coming, slow.

And sometimes when he came back to me look, big as a balloon and then sometimes look, small dock is completely off and another world at certain points.


He thinks he’s playing a different sport all together.

One time.

I covered first-base and I caught the ball and I tagged the base all in one motion.

I said, well, I just made a touchdown.

But actually, I put a guy out at first base.


Despite all of this stock is performing really well, and a couple of innings into the game, some of his teammates start to notice that the San Diego Padres have yet to get a hit.

We had a rookie on the team at that particular time and he sat next to me.

And he kept saying, he said, you got to know, no going I said, yeah, right, but I could also feel the pressure from other players wanting to tell him to shut up because that’s Superstition thing where you’re not Say nothing.


If somebody’s throwing a no-hitter, because it’s bad luck.

So some of you may know this, but I had to look up what exactly?

A no-hitter is in baseball.

A hit is a technical term.

It basically means that a batter hits the ball.


No one catches it before it bounces and they make it safely to base.

So a no-hitter is, when a pitcher pitches a complete game, all nine innings without giving up a hit.

There’s never been a no-hitter tough.

But this ballpark without saying, one thing Doc knows.


He’s got one of them ahead of concrete.

You didn’t know it.

Come on.


You can pitch a no-hitter and have Runners on base, though.

If a batter gets walked or hit by a pitch, for example, and Doc, he was pitching all over the place, you know, I’m trying to get the Batters up and I’m throwing a crazy game.


I’m hitting people.

Can people throwing balls in the dirt?

That going everywhere?


Side has guys because I’m trying to figure out what the hell I’m gonna do with all these rumors on Bates.

I had the bases loaded two or three times in the top of the seventh inning.


The Pirates hit their second home run, putting them up to zero and it stays that way until the bottom of the ninth.

Just three outs stand between Dock and victory in the bottom of the ninth inning here in San Diego.


Once again, doc Ellis ready one down.

The next batter grounds out to first base.


That’s two down is called jealous on a no-hitter.

Working away here to spiezio.

No balls, one strike.

Here’s the check.

The big expected to calls physiologist, spazio standing in there and not colors checks.


His time comes down, fight free.


Doc is the only one that we know of to have thrown a no-hitter while on acid though, it would be a decade before he told anyone that little detail.

So What role did the LSD play that day?

And what else was going on in Doc’s world that led to his drug use?


We’ll get into all that after the break.

Before the break, doc Ellis threw a no-hitter while high on speed and tripping on acid.


We heard how Doc experienced it.

But what was actually going on inside his brain?

What effect did the LSD have?

It was the only known hitter in his life.

He obviously improved his performance in it.

They just almost unquestionable.

This is psychiatrist.


Dr. David Nutt.

That’s not with two T’s.

He’s been pioneering research and neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial.

College of London and for the past decade, he studied how LSD and other psychedelics work.

He’s familiar with Doc’s no-hitter.


It wasn’t it made him a better picture.

It made him a very different picture in his case.

It clearly projector not says, it made him unpredictable to his opponents.

They didn’t know what was going on and they couldn’t work out.

What the hell he was going to do because he didn’t know what he was going to do.

Remember doc was confused one minute.


He thinks he’s playing football then another he can’t figure out what Sighs, the baseball is, but he was still able to pitch.

Doctor nut, says, all that checks out.

The interesting thing about LSD is it doesn’t disrupt fundamental motor function.

Like in pitching a baseball.


What it would do is disrupt, your ability to decide what kind of boy you were going to throw and you know, what Target you might have.

And then there was the speed.

If he hadn’t been on the Benzedrine.

He probably wouldn’t have bothered to actually pitch at all.

Doc had found the perfect drug cocktail to be both focused and unpredictable.


But perhaps, the most important thing that the LSD did was something much deeper for doc doctor nut, says it likely helped erase his fear.

You can’t think about failure because you’re not thinking about, you know, your brain is not able to make that projection that you might fail.


A fear of failure is something that doc lived with constantly.

And he says, One of the reasons he turned to drugs, also used to medicate myself.

That’s the way I was dealing with the fear of failure during docs days in the MLB.

He was under a lot of pressure to perform.


And he was scared, scared of losing, scared of getting kicked, out of the big leagues.

You get to the major leagues and you say I got to stay here.

What do I need?

Oh, yeah.

I need some of this shit right here because this you to get me going the drugs distracted do.


From his insecurities.

They made him feel Invincible.

It gives you that, that, that feeling that you are at your top top of your game.

You like it what they call in the zone.

Now, Doc wanted to feel this way every game while the LSD was a one-time thing.


As far as we know, doc was high on other drugs, mainly speed for nearly every game of his career.

He couldn’t break the Habit, even when he tried, I tried Pitching game in San Francisco, without being high, and it scared the hell out of me.


I could I didn’t even know how to wind up.

Doc told one of his teammates that he didn’t know what to do.

These are all know.

You need your medicine.

So I was I ran all the way across the field to go, get some Greenies and load of my mouth or with, greetings, and coffee.


My lips.


Greenies is slang for dexedrine.

It’s another form of speed.

I came back in the first thing, you know, boom.

I was The group.

But I was scared prior to, I don’t know what to do, you know, the fear of success and failure was was what I was dealing with.


That’s why I gravitated to the drugs.

I get that not the baseball specific Parts, but the crushing pressure to do well to not fuck up to meet sky, high standards.


I know how paralyzing that feels and I get doing whatever it takes to dull that fear and get unstuck.

Take hosting this show.

For example, this is a real big girl job with expectations and pressure.

There’s this constant refrain in the back of my head of don’t fuck up.


Don’t fuck up, don’t Fuck up.

So it’s tempting to reach for something, that’ll get rid of that pit in my stomach, just to get me going.


It’s hard, not to wonder if I could just hit.

Delete on the anxiety.

Who knows what I could do?


Played enough sports to know that the difference between letting fear bother you a little bit and letting fear not bother you at all.

Can be the difference between winning and losing, you know, This is Donnell Alexander.

He’s the journalist who interviewed DOC for weakened America.


All those years ago.

Donnell says, they had a wide-ranging conversation.

Not just about this one game, but they talked more deeply about drugs and baseball and the difficulties that dock faced as a black man in the major leagues in the 60s and 70s.


He came across very early on is a radical, you know, and it’s interesting how I made it work within the confines of baseball and how he didn’t make it work as as well.

Doc wasn’t just dealing with the pressures of Performing.

He was playing in the big leagues, which had been integrated for only about 20 years.


It was the age of desegregation Civil Rights Voting Rights, but also the age of Nixon and Law and Order.

Doc would get letters that said, things like you were brought up in a tarpaper shack and you black son of a bitch.


Some real 1970s vintage racism, one time, a police officer wouldn’t let doc into a Cincinnati ballpark after.

He forgot his ID doc got angry and the officer pulled a gun on him, decided to holster it and maced him instead.


Another time while pitching a minor league game in North Carolina, a crowd of white fans, taunted him with shouts of the N word.

Doc responded by striking out.

The last batter then holding his middle finger in the air and slowly turning in a circle.

And the racism extended Beyond Baseball fans to team management.


They would question how he wore his hair commenting.

On his braids, asking him, not to wear curlers on the field.

They said I couldn’t wear the curlers because it wasn’t part of the uniform code.

So I went and got it size, 10 and a half hat and took the two curlers off here.


Here here and here and you couldn’t see him.

Doc was always looking for ways to fight back and are now says this activism set him apart.

Well, he was known as the Muhammad Ali of baseball amongst black players, you know, we’re so used to the generation of LeBron, James and outspoken, black athletes in the 70s.


There just weren’t those athletes.

Doc fought for players, rights to free agency.

He challenged the press, and the league on matters of race saying, they’d never start to black men as pitchers in the All-Star Game and Then that year they did and he was one of them.


Doc, Ellis talked about these things when no one dared do it.

You know, there was a there’s a backlash that he suffered, who knows how these things might have exacerbated his addiction issues.

A deep-seated fear of failure, steeped, in a culture of racism.


That’s a lot to deal with.

People who are close to Doc later in life.

Pretty much confirmed en, el suspicions about the way, all these things are connected to Doc’s, addiction issues, Doc’s friend.

Dr. Reuben remembers him talking about it.


He felt it was racism.

It was rampant and it did affect who he was and how he was certainly the kind of contracts.

He God and what have you?

So a lot of the I think chemical dependency.


Issues that he developed were related to that.

In the spring of 1981.

Doc, quit baseball.

He realized he needed help.

So that fall, he enrolled in a 40-day substance abuse program in Arizona.


Once he got clean, doc says he had a hard time finding follow-up counseling.

He says there just wasn’t any one who had first-hand experience of what he went through.

I think he wanted to become the counselor because he wanted to help people and he especially professional athletes.


He just saw the benefit of what it did for him.

And he wanted to pass it on Doc, got trained as an alcohol and drug rehabilitation counselor.

He was looking for a place to work when his agent connected him with.

Dr. Rubin who had just started a new practice that combined medicine nutrition science.


Exercise physiology and Behavioral Health in 1982.

Dr. Reuben hired Dock at the clinic, and he was a really good counselor.

The most impressive thing about Doc in this capacity was that you couldn’t lie to him.


Nobody could fool him.

Nobody, everybody would try, but they couldn’t do it.

And the reason why they couldn’t do it is because he was one of them, so he knew and it was impressive.

My God.

Admit basically doc was really good at cutting through the bullshit when he spoke with people struggling with addiction is very real.


And genuine.

You couldn’t find a better friend and he couldn’t find somebody better to have your back when you need it.

He was.

I loved doc spent the rest of his life, helping others.


He worked with professional athletes trouble.

Youth and inmates.

And doc says he stayed sober.

He went to Alcoholics Anonymous and other group meetings to manage his drug addiction.

He would let himself go out to bars to socialize, but he would order a mocktail.


What he dubbed.

The dock cocktail a mixture of orange juice.

Pineapple juice, coconut cream and grenadine.

Dr. Rubin thinks.

Docks patients also helped him stay on track.

He had to establish trust in order for them to be responsive to him.


If he wouldn’t remain sober while he’s working with them, it would have been perceived as a betrayal.

So I think it did help him stay on the sobriety track doc talked about this on the macneil/lehrer NewsHour during your recovery.


What is happening is you like a child learning to walk again?

And what happens is you need the people that are that are recovering. 28 years after he got sober and 2008, doc died of complications stemming from chronic liver disease.


Likely a result of his addiction to alcohol.

Before he got clean.

He was 63.

It’s ironic because his alcohol addiction.

It could possibly have been treated with the very drug.

He casually took before his no-hitter, research is coming.


Nowt that LSD combined with therapy, may be able to treat alcohol addiction and depression.

And one of the versions of the speed he was on is now being used to help treat ADHD.

We don’t know all the details of how Doc recovered.


But what seems clear is that he had to step away from baseball, to see the difference between what others wanted from him and what he actually wanted for himself.

And what he wanted was to help others with the same struggles.

He went through.

He says that was the most meaningful part of his life.


Not the high-profile Major League Baseball days, not the famous.

No, no, but the quiet work of giving back and there’s bravery in that in leaving the comfort of being validated by the world doc left his career.

And in the process he found his calling and himself.


Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media next week.

We’re traveling back to 2004 to revisit the Scandal that changed Paris, Hilton’s life, and fame.

As we know it.

I definitely thought that it was paris’s idea that Did this to herself to become famous?


This episode was produced by Sarah Craig and Kinzie Clark.

Our associate producers are Julie, Carly and Jake.

Nyah are low.

The supervising producer is Erica, Morrison editing, by Andrea, be Scott, Zach Stewart Ponte and Abbie.

Ruzicka fact-checking by Matthew Brown.


Sound design and mixing by Bobby, Lord, original music by Sachs kicks, Ave.

Willie Green, Jay bless, and Bobby Lord.

And the theme song is Toko, Liana by Coco with music supervision by Liz Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by Elysee Harvin and Talia Rahman, the executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte.


The executive producer from gimlet is Abbie.


If you want to know more about the Dock, Ellis story check out.

No, no, a documentary or the awesome animated film Dock Ellis and the LSD.

No, no.

Special, thanks to Darnell, Alexander Nelly, LL, Bob, smajsak, Jeffrey.



Jay James, blagdon Lydia, Pole, Green, Dan Behar and Clara Sankey Emily wiedemann.

Liz Styles and Nabil.

Chuang pot follow.

Not past it.

Now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify and follow me on Twitter.


I’m at Simone, polenin.

Thanks for hanging.

See you next week.

I used to always tell my first wife, I’m going to be in the big leagues.

I’m going to be home.


I’m going to be in the streets.