He cut a swath.
He was an intimidator, plunking three members of the starting lineup of the Cincinnati Reds on May 1, 1974, to put the fear of him into that team. He was a warrior, black and proud and not afraid to demand respect as a ballplayer of color.
He was a drinker. He was a drugger: amphetamines, cocaine, LSD; you name it, he ingested it. He was a peacock: Flashy bell-bottoms (it was the ’70s) and gaudy cars were his trademarks. He was a ladies man. He was a guy who abused ladies, two of his ex-wives attest.
He was, people said, “crazy.”
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Ultimately, he was repentant: on the wagon and counseling others to not drink and drug as he did.
Always, he was his own man.
He was Dock Ellis, and in “No No: A Dockumentary” the legendary major-league pitcher gets a warts-and-all retrospective on a life and career that is unfailingly entertaining and occasionally even mind-blowing.
Mind-blowing, in a nearly literal sense, as it recounts the incident that is a cornerstone of his legend and is the source of the picture’s title: the June 12, 1970, no-hitter he pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the San Diego Padres while, by his own admission, “high as a Georgia pine” on LSD. In a recorded interview on the subject, he says he was so zonked he can’t remember the particulars of the feat.
Director Jeff Radice interviewed Ellis’ teammates, players from rival teams, family and friends, though not Ellis himself, who died of liver disease in 2008 at age 63. He uses footage of Ellis from interviews conducted by others to complete his portrait of this fascinating man of many facets.
Soren Andersen: email@example.com