The day that Dock Ellis beaned everybody
Posted by keithosaunders on April 15, 2016
Dock Ellis, who spent the better part of his career pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, is mostly famous for having claimed to have pitched a no hitter while on acid. He managed, however, to compile some impressive stats in his 12 year major league career. His lifetime ERA is 3.46, he has a record of 138-119 including 71 complete games and 14 shut outs.
A couple of days ago I read an article in Deadspin about Ellis that knocked me out. I’ll summarize, but you really should check this out, if for no other reason than to see how differently the game was played 35-40 years ago.
According to Ellis the only team that intimidated the Pirates was the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds and Pirates had been alternating appearing in the World Series — the Pirates in 1969 and ’71, and the Reds in 1970, and ’72 – and the two had been meeting in the playoffs almost every year.
By 1974 Ellis had had enough and he decided that the next time he faced the Reds he was going to bean every batter. Every batter! On May 1st Ellis faced the Reds for the first time that season and he proceeded to make good on his threat.
He considered not hitting Pete Rose because he knew Roses would shake it off like it was nothing and charge towards first base like a bull. ( Rose was also a personnel friend) He thought better of it and hit him anyway. He proceeded to hit Joe Morgan in the kidneys. Then he beaned Dan Driessen. He tried to hit Tony Perez but Perez was already backing up. So he threw behind him, but Perez stepped forward, eventually walking. He tried to hit Johnny Bench but once the count got to 2-0 manager, Danny Murtaugh, came out of the dugout and pulled him. Ellis said that “[Murtaugh] looked at me hard.” All I could think of was Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm when he stares down an adversary to detect if he is lying.
For those of us used to observing today’s pinkies-up style of baseball, in which the catchers are no longer allowed to block the plate, and pitchers are not allowed to complete potential no-hitters for fear of exceeding the magical number of 100, this is outrageous stuff. The fact that Ellis was not ejected after hitting the third batter, and had to be pulled by his manager, is shocking!
I’m not advocating violence. Obviously Ellis was a free spirit and his behavior was out of line to say the least. But for crying out loud, is there a middle ground?! Is baseball better off in this sanitized homogenized age? Allow me to offer a response: