It’s a tale that will forever enjoy top billing in the Crazy Baseball Stories Hall of Fame: the night in 1970 that Dock Ellis, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, threw a no-hitter while tripping on LSD.
The subject of Ellis’ astounding miracle—let’s face it, most of us couldn’t even program a DVR on acid, let alone shut down 27 batters in a row—has already been fodder for a Barbara Manning song by the SF Seals and a widely shared, highly amusing animated short set to Ellis’ own retelling of the game.
Now, a feature-length documentary opening this week at the Roxie Theater weaves Ellis’ personal demons into the historical context of that legendary evening. No No: A Dockumentary delivers the goods from the start, offering actual footage of the game itself, and through archival clips and interviews with teammates and family, the film criss-crosses the inherent humor of Ellis’ psychedelic achievement with the challenges the headstrong hurler faced in the major leagues. (Lesser hailed than his lysergic-fueled pitching feat is the fascinating battle that Ellis fought with management over playing on-field with curlers in his hair.) Also raised is the lingering question of if Ellis truly was on acid—reporters who were at the game don’t think so—or if Ellis’ claim was simply an outgrowth of his oversized personality.
With a score by the Beastie Boys’ Adam Horowitz and a serious look at Ellis’ life before and after that cosmic June night in San Diego, No No: A Dockumentary is a defining film of a baseball legend, and one that’ll surely elevate Dock Ellis as an American folk hero.