Exam break: athletes’ dumbest moments and the fascinating, inspiring, and sad story of Dock Ellis

After long day of exam-related stuff, time for a change.  Found this: in reaction to Giants receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself in the leg, Morning Joe counts down “Athletes’ Dumbest Moments.” Among the highlights: athletes who can’t play because they injure themselves playing Guitar Hero and Game Boy (ok, video games provides a thread, albeit a mighty tenuous one, to the theme of this site). And Pete Rose, of course.

My addition to M.J.’s list: Superbowl XL QB Big Ben’s near-fatal motorcycle ride.

The piece also recounts some of the antics of Dock Ellis, the colorful Pirates pitcher who admitted (years later) to pitching a no-hitter in 1970 while on LSD.  I actually own two Dock Ellis baseball cards.  I got them when I was a little kid, years before Ellis admitted to the drug use.

I actually know almost nothing about Ellis (I was young and have never been a big BB fan), but he was quite a character.  Here’s an excerpt from a well-written piece from the Dallas Observer:

When the Cincinnati Reds taunted the Pirates after beating them in the 1972 National League Championship Series, Ellis decided to motivate his team by hitting every single batter in the Reds’ lineup. He hit the first three and walked two before he was pulled. He had, in short, that certain combination of raw talent and insanity that very rarely creates Hall of Famers but almost always creates legends.

Later in life, Ellis gave up drugs and focused on helping others:

After more than a decade striking out batters in the majors and turning heads with his infamously surprising behavior and comments, Dock Ellis dedicated his life to making sure kids took a path that leads away from alcohol and drugs, which he struggled with throughout his career.

He even worked as a drug counselor in a penitentiary. That’s an inspiring story.  Sadly, Ellis is now in poor health suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.  I wish him well and hope he recovers.

H/T to Huffington for the vid.

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