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 Closed Clannish World Dock S Keen Vision, Filtered Through Hall S Extraordinary Voice, Shows Us The Hardships And Problems Of The Thinking Athlete In An Unthinking World 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 interesting and honest than anything in the 300 or so pages preceding it.That said, Dock Ellis was a bad motherfucker Three stars by default. 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 relations, and behind the scenes of a baseball team Dock pitched his no hitter high on LSD When I spoke to Mr Hall, he recommended a documentary to me No No A Dockumentary Here is a link It can be viewed on You Tube. 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 pitcher who once hit three Cincinnati Reds deliberately to start a game he was pulled after failing to hit Tony Perez with the first three attempts in the next dodgeball game and for throwing a no hitter on LSD Dock spoke his mind, pitched well most of the time, did terrific community work, and managed to co exist with his managers for seven years.Hall, best known as a poet, spent a lot of time with Dock and clearly has a deep love for baseball But I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with a book I d known about but hadn t run down until it showed up on kindle Part of the problem is that Hall s rhapsodies on the country of baseball teeter on cliche the image doesn t really hold up over the course of 300 pages Part of its that, while Hall is certainly aware of the centrality of race to Dock s story, he doesn t do much than acknowledge it Ellis both was and wasn t political at least in the context of Black Power and there s something fascinating to be drawn out of his experience He had it right in most ways, but wrong in some crucial ones Unfortunately, Hall isn t quite honest about the down side Yes, Dock was treated ridiculously by the Pittsburgh press and that was mostly about race But he had a real talent for concocting excuses for poor performance and he was than a little self indulgent in relation to sex and drugs The book was published while many of Dock s teammates were still active, so I understand why Hall transforms Dock s LSD trip into vodka and why he doesn t mention the small mountains of cocaine that were part of the major league culture But it leaves the book feeling evasive.It was also odd that Roberto Clemente, the heart and soul of the Pirates when Dock came up, receives almost no mention prior to a chapter centered around his death In contrast, there are thick portraits of some other Pirates, including Willie Stargell.Glad I read it, but it s not a baseball classic. On December 11, 1975, Pirates General Manager Joe Brown traded Willie Randolph, Ken Brett, and Dock Ellis to the Yankees for pitcher Doc Medich as Brown s father, Joe E Brown, might have said, Well, nobody s perfect True, Brown s hand was forced somewhat by Ellis perceived insubordination , but that has to rank as just about the worst trade in the history of bad trades.This book, the result of many hours Donald Hall spent interviewing, tagging along with, drinking with, and interacting with Dock Ellis, is a truly vital document to anyone trying to wrap their mind around the sports culture of the 70 s It s also a brilliant read, limning a man s struggle against his inner demons, and is in a flat footed tie with Bill Lee s memoir The Wrong Stuff for my favorite baseball book of all time.
Donald Hall was an American poet, writer, editor and literary critic He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers Conference at the age of sixteen the same year he had his first work published Donald Hall published numerous books of poetry Besides poetry, Donald Hall wrote books on baseball, the sculptor Henry Moore, and the poet Marianne Moore He was also the author
- 352 pages
- Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball
- Donald Hall
- 06 July 2017 Donald Hall