AT THE INTERSECTION of sports and drugs stands the towering legend of Dock Ellis. While there has never been a shortage of athletes dabbling in powders and pills—from Tim Raines adjusting his sliding habits so as not to break the cocaine vials in his baseball pants, to any number of NFL players currently suspended for popping Molly—Ellis has them all beat. Many consumed more drugs than Ellis, but none did it better.
No No: A Dockumentary examines the wild life of Ellis, a hard-throwing hurler for the Pittsburgh Pirates who, later in life, claimed to have never taken the mound without being high. Never more concerned with getting blotter hits than batters getting hits, Ellis was an All-Star and World Series champion—a feat overlooked when, on one afternoon in 1970, he etched his name in the baseball record books by tossing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres... while high on LSD. Even if No No isn't able to unearth any newfound footage from this preposterous moment in sports history (not all games were televised back then), it nimbly dissects Ellis' life—a journey that took him from precocious rookie, to a militant black man unafraid to get suspended for wearing hair curlers on the field, to a savvy veteran who tossed illegal spitballs using the runoff from his Jheri curl.
Ellis' unbridled disdain for authority, coupled with his "high as a Georgia pine" LSD no-hitter, have transformed him into a sports anti-hero of sorts—a far cry from the obedient, brand-obsessed athletes of today. No No does an impressive job of extracting Ellis from his recreational pursuits, portraying him as a creative soul with no shortage of demons and a man who longed to divorce himself from his druggy past during a late-in-life devotion to sobriety.