No No – I Refuse to Make a Pun for This Title

January 25, 2014 : 8:25 pm | by Zach Toll

Well, I tried anyway. Really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, no pun intended. I mean, I could’ve gone with, “Just Say ‘No’ to No No,” but I loved the documentary, directed by Jeffery Radice, about Dock Ellis, a professional baseball player who notoriously pitched a no hitter while tripping on LSD.

And you thought you had made some impressive athletic accomplishments while intoxicated.

And you thought you had made some impressive athletic accomplishments while intoxicated.

The film only focuses briefly on the game in question, functioning mainly as a biographical piece on Ellis, who left Compton, California to lead a controversial professional career. While No No: A Dockumentary portrays all of professional baseball from that era as a party, it makes clear that Dock Ellis was the league’s Van WIlder. Or maybe more Bluto; Ellis eventually admitted to being an alcoholic and a drug addict, and he then decided to go clean and become a successful addiction counselor.

Radice completed No No, his first feature length film, less than two weeks before its debut at Sundance. I have to say, despite the rush, he did polished work.

The film incorporates archival footage and new interviews to tell Ellis’s life story. Much of it includes anecdotes about his partying and general antics, including sparring with Muhammad Ali and wearing hair curlers to practice, which MLB executives apparently cared about enough to tell him not to do. One thread in the doc’s narrative is what Ellis did to break down race barriers in baseball. He was a key member of the MLB’s first all-black starting lineup and he regularly spoke out against policies he felt were discriminatory.

Even if you don’t care about baseball, its worth seeing. A story full of ups and downs, victories and defeats, and all about a guy who treated major league baseball like college intramural athletics.

*Note: Eckerd does not condone the use of alcohol or drugs while playing in its intramural programs.

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