Documentary honors Pirates legend

By: Sam Fatula | a&e editor

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, the U.S. underwent a societal counterculture change that largely influenced many lives today. In that era, people experienced a trying time of the Vietnam War, which bore witness to animosity against other nations, and other times our own country.

With the aid of sports and other forms of entertainment, Americans sought an escape from the suffrage and it also might have provided comic relief to see a Pirates player wearing hair curlers in the dugout.

Whether you are a baseball pundit or not, the name Dock Ellis should be one to familiarize yourself with. Ellis was a household name for Pittsburgh Pirates fans during the early ‘70s, specifically for his natural pitching ability on the mound and his fun-loving personality.

AP Photo

AP Photo

Ellis also arguably holds the title for one of the most interesting stories to grace the baseball diamond. So interesting, that filmmaker Jeffrey Radice decided to make a documentary on Ellis’ career on-and-off the field, titled No-No: A Dockumentary.

What Radice is referring to is the story of Ellis in 1970, where the hurler claimed to pitch a no-hitter after taking LSD before the game. Ellis reportedly only remembered bits and pieces from the game, but had experienced a huge sense of euphoria while playing. Although Ellis was adamant about his drug-induced phenomenon, many remain skeptical to the truthfulness of Ellis’ claims.

While showing the film LSD a Go-Go, which made its way to Sundance Film Festival in 2004, then producer-Radice realized how many other individuals were avidly sharing stories of LSD experiences at the Festival.

“Some [stories] of them were fascinating,” Radice said. “Some of them were fairly mundane, but it caused me to think back about one of the most interesting stories I ever heard about Dock Ellis.”

“It was this urban folklore, so I did a little bit more research into whether it was true,” Radice added. “The more I learned about Dock, the more fascinated I became.”

Radice’s fascination of Ellis’ no-hitter story led him to explore the rest of the pitcher’s lifestyle, which caused the larger-than-life athlete to have roles in films in the mid-80s and even the opportunity to spar with Muhammad Ali. The fascination led towards the birth of the ‘dock’umentary.

Following months of production, the film still lacked a proper ending due to lack of funding. But with the support of baseball and Ellis fans alike, the documentary got its resolve through a Kickstarter page, which eventually made its way into this year’s Sundance Festival.

Currently, No-No is making its way into select theaters around the U.S. The first stop? None other than Pittsburgh earlier this month.

“If you see the movie, it’s pretty much a biographical portrait, but I look at a movie like When We Were Kings or The Times of Harvey Milk,” Radice said. “And I wanted to see this individual who went through this era in America as a window to America itself.”

No-No is making its rounds across the country, playing in select theaters. A listing of locations and dates are available on their website, nonoadockumentary.com.

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