An idiosyncratic memoir/tribute to Dock Ellis, the man who threw a major league no-hitter in June 1970 while kited on LSD.
Sports journalist Alexander has produced a curious piece of work in this enhanced e-book, one that seeks to inclusively hug Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ellis, the man Ellis went on to become, Alexander’s fascination with Ellis as he moved about in the world of sports journalism, the whole drug/cheating mess that has been a part of sports from the start and how drugs are a natural element in a culture that emphasizes winning and more winning. That’s a lot to tackle in a fairly short narrative, even with the help of interactive, hyperlinked words, video clips, voice-overs and terrific animated episodes with Ellis in a speaking role. But Ellis comes shining through, an odd fellow and a bad boy—well, the kind of guy who would pitch a pro game with his hair in curlers—though really no more odd nor bad than many other players. And think of it: Ellis wakes up, a little confused as to what day it is, drops some lysergic acid, learns he is scheduled to pitch in a few hours—and does he call in sick? No way. He goes and throws a no-hitter. (Roughly two are thrown each year in the nearly 5,000 games played.) The drug story also comes to the fore, especially in sports, where the demands on winning have everyone looking for an edge—drugs, cheating—but in all the other workplaces, too, where production is paramount. Alexander varies his delivery as much as any pitcher: sometimes staccato, sometimes smooth as milk, sometimes quirkily fractured, like a spitball coming at you.
Question: “What can baseball teach us in the age of Adderall?” Alexander’s answer: That a myopic culture that values production above all else has always been with us.