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Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  11 reviews
One of America's finest poets joins forces with one of baseball's most outrageous pitchers to paint a revealing portrait of our national game. Donald Hall's forceful, yet elegant, prose brings together all the elements of Dock Ellis's story into a seamless whole. The two of them, the pitcher and the poet, give us remarkable insight into the customs and culture of this clos ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 15th 1989 by Touchstone (first published 1976)
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Baseball is life. Or as Donald Hall describes it: "Baseball is a country all to itself."

Hall is a great New Hampshire poet and Red Sox fan. In the 1970s, he decided to write a book about baseball by being granted time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. There he met Dock Ellis and a friendship ensued.

Most poets make very little money. Hall spoke at colleges for money. A college will pay him $1,000 to speak, but the library cannot afford to buy his book.

This book is about the life of Dock Ellis, race
Craig Werner
As a life-long Pittsburgh Pirates fan, I enjoyed Hall's book for its picture of one of the most entertaining teams in major league history: the free-spirited Bucs of the 1970s, a.k.a. "The Family." The team won two World Series championships--1971 and 1979--and in many ways embodied the breakthrough of black players into full citizenship in what Hall calls "the country of baseball." That breakthrough wasn't without its problems, and those are exemplified by the career of Dock Ellis, the Pirate p ...more
Tyler Jones
" Doc Ellis in the Country of Baseball (1976) was incomplete, inaccurate, and on occasion mendacious." So says Donald Hall in an epilogue added to the book in 1988. Although it succeeded rather well in getting behind the scenes and letting the reader see what the life of a major league pitcher is like, it did not mention the drug use of its subject. Only after the original publication would Ellis admit that he had been using cocaine, amphetamines and LSD through most of his career.

The prologue m
If you've heard of Dock Ellis, it's because of the LSD No-No. If that intrigued you enough to Google his name, you were further intrigued by his other notable on-field antics: beaning the first three Reds batters in a Spring, 1974 game, taking BP in hair curlers. If you subsequently picked up Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball, you finished the book ashamed at your initial superficial interest in Dock. Because you realized that, in spite of the necessary skeptism you apply to athletes, in ter ...more
Jan 11, 2008 Ben rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: baseball fans with an interest in american culture
This is a wonderful and very free book, by a wonderful and very free man. Written near the end of Dock Ellis' career, in 1976, Hall and Ellis riff on the challenges and occasional triumphs of being a free spirit within a tightly maintained baseball culture. Dock himself, an excellent pitcher (largely for the Pittsburgh Pirates), was highly controversial in his time, and compared to Muhummed Ali: for criticizing management, talking about race to the media, and also for some genuinely outlandish a ...more
Josh Drimmer
A book about Dock Ellis can't be dull, but this one tries hard at it.

The epilogue chapter, added on twelve years after the original 1976 publication, indicates all the drugs removed from the original chapters (Dock Ellis' infamous no-hitter on LSD is called a "hangover" no-hitter in the original) and goes into Dock's rehab and rebirth as a drug counselor. It's more interesting and honest than anything in the 300 or so pages preceding it.

That said, Dock Ellis was a bad motherfucker. Three stars
The story of Dock Ellis, from LA through the minor leagues, the the Pirates and retirement. The best parts of the book are descriptions of games from a pitcher's point of view. The book is some what not forth right about drugs and alcohol and groupies. The book seems an honest record of Dock's life, but glosses over four marriages and rehab. The author adds an overarching idea that he land of baseball is a separate place amongst us all. Maybe it is.
Will Mason
Dock Ellis was a pitcher for the Pirates in the 70's. Best known for pitching a no-hitter while he was tripping on acid, he also made a big impact on race relations in the game. Hall, best known for his poetry, collaborated with Ellis on the book and he pulls you into his story--Ellis's rise, his heyday, and his eventual decline. One of my favorite baseball books.
Joe Wikert
I had low expectations for this one but it was a delight to read. Took me back to the 70's when Dock Ellis was pitching high (on LSD, not pitch location) and making waves with his outspoken point of view. This is one every Pirates fan should read.
Michael Webb
I didn't think I'd ever rank a baseball book as high as Roger Angell's work- but Donald Hall has done it. Fantastic.
David Michael
Aug 31, 2007 David Michael marked it as to-read
All I know is that Dock Ellis pitched a No Hitter while on LSD...
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