Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 17, 2012.

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The legend of Dock Ellis includes LSD, hair curlers & beaning batters. We explore the man behind the legend and his legacy.

On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 136 years of baseball history, only 276 no-hitters have been recorded. Dock is the only pitcher to ever claim he accomplished his while high on LSD.

During his 12 years in the major leagues, Dock lived the expression "Black is Beautiful!" He wore curlers on the field. He stepped out of his Cadillac wearing the widest bell bottoms and the broadest collars. When he put on his uniform, he was one of the most intimidating pitchers of the 1970s. 

Dock was often at the forefront of controversy and has been called the “Muhammad Ali of Baseball.” He was an outspoken leader of a new wave of civil rights in sports, when black athletes were no longer content to accept second-class treatment or keep their mouths shut about indignities. For this, the press labeled him a militant. 

But that’s only half the story…

After Dock retired from baseball, he was as outspoken about his addictions to alcohol and amphetamines (aka “greenies”) as he had been about racial prejudice during his career. He spent his last decades using that blunt honesty as a counselor helping other addicts, until his death from liver disease in 2008.

Since then, the Internet has fueled the legend of Dock Ellis. This will be the first time his legend - and the story of the man behind it - will be told in a feature film. To do this, we need your help.

Dock and catcher Jerry May celebrate the no hitter.
Dock and catcher Jerry May celebrate the no hitter.

First, here’s what we’ve done:

  • We’ve built a comprehensive archival library of photos, news clippings, memorabilia and film surrounding Dock’s story. We call it the “Dockupedia.”
  • We’ve captured more than 50 hours of interviews with over 35 of Dock's family members, lifelong friends, former teammates and journalists, as well as his long-time agent Tom Reich, fellow counselors and those he counseled. Many of these people have never spoken publicly about Dock and his impact on their lives before. This is material you have never seen, anywhere.
  • We’ve put together a team of artists, animators, editors and advisors to create, as Dock would say, "the slickest, hippest, most with it" film that we can – one that is worthy of its subject. Dock was a man of personality and style, and this film is intended to reflect that.
Dock's agent Tom Reich and his brother, attorney Sam Reich in front of the Forbes Field wall. The two men spent many years on the side of professional athletes in their labor causes and broke owner collusion in baseball.
Dock's agent Tom Reich and his brother, attorney Sam Reich in front of the Forbes Field wall. The two men spent many years on the side of professional athletes in their labor causes and broke owner collusion in baseball.
John Shandy interview, Long Beach, California
John Shandy interview, Long Beach, California
Concept sketch by Kevin-John
Concept sketch by Kevin-John

Your support will allow us to further enrich this dynamic material and help finish the film. If you like what you see in the trailer, then please make the most generous contribution you can. Your assistance will allow us to reach that level of excellence over the entire film.

We plan to complete post-production, subject to available funds of course, over the remainder of 2012 and seek a festival debut in 2013. Your contribution will be earmarked towards funding post-production editing, animation, visual effects and sound; and fulfilling obligations incurred in the production of interviews.

We’re also very proud that the film has already received support from The Austin Film Society’s Texas Filmmakers Production Fund, The Center for Independent Documentary and many individuals. Please join them today.

Why we are doing this is relatively simple: Dock was a fascinating and compelling person. His story is wild, almost unbelievable.

As a player, Dock drove fancy cars and wore stylish clothing. He kept his teams loose with his constant chatter. He wore hair curlers on the field and shadow boxed with Muhammad Ali in the clubhouse. At the same time, he bristled against injustice, particularly racial injustice. He stood up and spoke up for the rights of black ballplayers, something Jackie Robinson both publicly and privately acknowledged.

When he hit the field, Dock was as serious as a heart attack. His in-your-face pitching style intimidated many of the batters he faced. He was a master of the mental game of pitching and started in two World Series games and the 1971 All Star Game. He was the ace on the 1971 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates and won an AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1976 with the New York Yankees.

Dock jaws with the umpires during a game at Wrigley Field
Dock jaws with the umpires during a game at Wrigley Field

Dock also participated in two important racial milestones. In 1971, he started the All-Star Game against Vida Blue, marking the first time two black pitchers faced off in the Midsummer Classic. Dock prodded Reds manager Sparky Anderson into selecting him to represent the National League, after claiming they would never start two “brothers” against each other. Dock was also the starting pitcher for the first “all-black” lineup on September 1, 1971, when Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh started nine Hispanic and black ballplayers.

Dock and Vida Blue, 1971 All-Star Game
Dock and Vida Blue, 1971 All-Star Game

Dock's biography was penned by future United States poet laureate Donald Hall. It was released in 1976 and updated in 1989, but covers only part of Dock’s life story. In 2009, No Mas released a popular animated short about Dock’s LSD-fueled no-hitter. Our film, No No: A Dockumentary will be the first time the full life story of Dock Ellis is told in a feature film. 

Your generous support will help us tell Dock’s story, and make it accessible to the widest possible audience.

Dock and his biographer, poet Donald Hall
Dock and his biographer, poet Donald Hall

Credits

Produced by Baseball Iconoclasts, LLC
Directed by Jeffrey Radice
Director of Photography: John Fiege
Editing and Effects: Arts+Labor

Creative Guidance: Glen E. Friedman

FAQ

  • You are pledging to make a contribution. All contributions are gifts to the film's entity; they are not investments in the film's profits, nor are they tax deductible. Contributors should consult their tax advisors to determine tax implications.

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  • Feel free to pledge anonymously. Set your Kickstarter profile name to whatever pseudonym suits you. This name is what the rest of the world sees in our list of Backers. Many of the perks are physical objects, so if you wish to hide your specifics from us, choose a pledge category without physical merchandise. You will need to disclose a financial identity to Amazon Payments.

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  • All projects need to manage the risk involved in Kickstarter's model of funding. We believe $35,000 in 35 days is an attainable goal. We'd love to raise much more. Please help us do that. Every dollar we receive will improve the film and help bring it to you sooner.

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  • We borrowed, deferred and coaxed favors from many individuals to get where we are now. Some of those payments are due. We also need to pay our professional post-production team to edit, animate and complete a film worthy of its subject. Contact us if you would like to request more detailed numbers.

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  • We have interviewed over 35 individuals, but Dock had many friends who knew him as a different man at different points in his life. It is possible that we may still need to pick up a handful of additional interviews. We will know more as we move through the editing process.

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  • There is a "send message" link at the top of our project page. Send email to http://mailto:baseballiconoclasts@gmail.com or telephone our production office at 424-2DOCK-17. We can be reached through twitter @dockumentary or on our Facebook fan page facebook.com/dockumentary. We are receptive to any questions or comments you may have, however you wish to present them to us.

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  • Go to our website -- nonodock.com

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    41 backers

    You want the world to know more about Dock Ellis and require nothing in return. Feel free to contribute $5 or more.

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    69 backers Limited (131 left of 200)

    A "Dock Ellis Has a Posse" sticker, in black and white. An original postcard for the film. A pair of vintage 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates color stickers.

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    98 backers Limited (2 left of 100)

    THE POSSE -- Digital download of the film, after we have digital distribution in place (2013 or later). Limited edition, silk screened June 12, 1970 - June 12, 2010 event POSTER featuring the art of Lil Tuffy and designed & hand printed by Billy Bishop. Special Name RECOGNITION on the Dockumentary webpage as a funder. "Dock Ellis Has a Posse" sticker and a postcard for the film.

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    14 backers Limited (26 left of 40)

    POSSE PLUS -- Digital download of the film, after we have digital distribution in place (2013 or later). Limited edition, silk screened June 12, 1970 - June 12, 2010 event POSTER featuring the art of Lil Tuffy and designed & hand printed by Billy Bishop. Special Name RECOGNITION on the Dockumentary webpage as a funder. "Dock Ellis Has a Posse" sticker, pair of vintage 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates color stickers, and a postcard for the film.

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    59 backers Limited (11 left of 70)

    ALL BENEFITS OF THE POSSE, PLUS: 1978 Dock Ellis (Rangers) Topps baseball card. Vintage 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates cloth patch. ACCESS to a private mailing list with notification of special events in Austin and around the country as the film is completed and shown.

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    3 backers Limited (5 left of 8)

    DOCK ELLIS ZOMBIE HUNTER -- "I had to go ... We were in a jeep. We got to a certain area. I saw these people walking - four of them, ZOMBIES." (Hall, _Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball_ p.135) One color, hand-drawn, original 4x6 sketch card signed by Kevin-John ~ from an illustrated series inspired by Dock Ellis, Manny Sanguillen, Manny Mota, Tito Fuentes and Rico Carty. ALSO includes ALL BENEFITS OF THE POSSE & private mailing list.

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    4 backers Limited (16 left of 20)

    ALL BENEFITS OF THE POSSE, PLUS: Hand-drawn CONCEPT SKETCH by Kevin-John, celebrity sports artist and illustrator for the film. http://www.kevin-john.com. "Additional Funding By" end CREDIT (two column) in all versions of the film, theatrical and digital. 1978 Dock Ellis (Rangers) Topps baseball card. ACCESS to a private mailing list with notification of special events.

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    6 backers Limited (4 left of 10)

    Hand-painted FINISHED SKETCH by Kevin-John, celebrity sports artist and illustrator for the film. PERSONAL invitation to EXCLUSIVE, behind the scenes events and dinners during the post-production and festival run of the film. "Additional Funding By" end CREDIT (topmost, single column) in all versions of the film, theatrical and digital. ANY or ALL perks available at lower reward levels.

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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Optional opening credit in all versions of the film as an Associate Producer and in the film's IMDB entry. Two SEATS to any (and all) public (and private) screenings of the film, if arranged in advance (travel not included). ACCESS to the Producers and the Director, even if you ever just want to call and chat about Dock. Limited Edition, signed and numbered, framed canvas giclee featuring a full color portrait of Dock Ellis by Celebrity Sports Artist Kevin-John. One item of memorabilia SIGNED by Dock Ellis from the filmmaker's collection (choices vary based on availability). PERSONAL invitation to EXCLUSIVE, behind the scenes events and dinners during the post-production and screening run of the film. ANY or ALL perks available at lower reward levels.

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Funding period

- (35 days)