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Video: New Film Revisits Dock Ellis’ Famed No-Hitter on Acid

The most legendary LSD-aided athletic performance of all time, and the man behind it, are examined in a new documentary.

7 Substance

On June 12, 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis allegedly threw a no-hitter—while tripping on LSD. He died in 2008, but his story has become infamous, in part thanks to this animated short film that went viral in 2009. A new documentary, No No: a Dokumentary (trailer below), directed by Jeffrey Radice, revisits the legendary moment in baseball history, as well as the pitcher’s ongoing struggles with addiction and recovery.

As Ellis often told the story, he was on the second day of a prolonged LSD trip and had forgotten that he had to play later that day against the Padres in San Diego. He promptly jumped on a plane and went on to have the best game of his career, despite not being able to feel the ball and hallucinating Jimi Hendrix. 

Some journalists have doubted the validity of Ellis’ claims, since there’s no way to prove that he was tripping that day, as he insisted up until his death. But if pitching a no-hitter on acid seems like an impossible feat, Ellis may have had some help—from amphetamines (speed). ”It was at the tail end of a multi-day trip, and when he got to the stadium, he also took a lot of speed—which was his drug of choice for pitching—and so that helped him get more set mentally,” Radice explains in an interview with Vice.

So why do so many people want to refute the story? “A lot of the doubt came from people who had no experience with LSD,” says Radice. “It’s very much a mental drug, so I don’t think it’s obvious if someone is under the influence of LSD. It’s all practice and muscle memory at the end of the day.” In fact, he believes the drug might even have boosted Ellis’ performance: ”I think hallucinogens, with the right kind of mental focus, allow you to really just get into a groove and rely on your muscle memory. ”

No No: a Dokumentary played at Sundance earlier this year. It can be streamed many places online, including Youtube.