September 1, 2012

PLATE?:

The Long Strange Trip of Dock Ellis (Patrick Hruby, ESPN)

In 1970, the Reds swept the Pirates for the National League pennant. Two years later, Cincinnati won again, knocking defending World Series champion Pittsburgh out of the postseason. Three months after that, Pittsburgh's Roberto Clemente -- future Hall of Famer, team leader, civic icon, a father figure to Ellis -- died in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico. Heartbreak ensued. The Pirates fell into a deep and lasting funk. Ellis coped with the pain the only way he knew how: by getting angry. He fumed over the Reds' talking smack from their dugout in the waning moments of the '72 NLCS. He fumed over his teammates' subsequently being all too eager to laugh and josh with their rivals. Cincinnati used to be scared of Pittsburgh. Now, it was the other way around.

And so, on May 1, 1974, a cool evening, Reds at Pirates, Pete Rose crouched at the plate to lead off.

Third pitch, Ellis hit Rose in the side.

Fourth pitch, Ellis drilled Joe Morgan in the kidney.

Sixth pitch, Ellis nailed Dan Driessen in the back.

Tony Perez dodged four pitches, earning a walk. Ellis tried to hit Johnny Bench in the head. Twice.

Finally, Pittsburgh manager Danny Murtaugh walked to the mound. "What's wrong?" he asked, deadpan. "Can't find the plate?"

Posted by at September 1, 2012 6:36 AM
  

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