Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dock Ellis (#286)

This is Dock Ellis’ rookie card. He pitched for 12 seasons (1968-79), the first 8 with the Pirates. After that, he bounced around to 5 different teams in his last 4 seasons, including returning to the Pirates for the last 2 weeks of his career.

While still in high school, Ellis played semi-pro baseball on a team that included future major-leaguers Bob Tolan, Reggie Smith, Bob Watson, Roy White, Don Wilson, and Dave Nelson.

Ellis was signed by the Pirates in 1964 and made his major-league debut in June 1968. He started 10 of his 26 games that year.

Dock was a fixture in the Pirates’ starting rotation from 1969 through the 1975 season. He won 19 games in 1971, and made his only All-Star team that season. He also finished 4th in the Cy Young voting.

Ellis pitched a no-hitter against the Padres in June 1970, supposedly while under the influence of LSD. (Apparently, he lost track of what day it was, and only after taking the LSD did he remember he had to pitch that day.)

He appeared in the post-season for the Pirates from 1970-72, and in 1975.

After the 1975 season he was traded to the Yankees along with pitcher Ken Brett and 2nd baseman Willie Randolph for pitcher Doc Medich. (One Doc for another!) Doc won 17 games for the Yankees in 1976, and also pitched in the ALCS and World Series.

The following April he was traded to the Athletics, and on June 15th was flipped to the Rangers. Exactly 2 years later, he was traded to the Mets, but finished that season (and his career) back with the Pirates. (He played for 3 teams in '77 and again in '79.)

Ellis was granted free agency after the 1979 season, but found no takers.

After his playing career, Ellis (who had a drug problem since high school) cleaned himself up and became a counselor to drug addicts. He also appeared in the Pittsburgh-based movie "Gung Ho" (starring Michael Keaton) in 1986.

Ellis died in 2008 at age 63.