Monday, July 2, 2012

My Personal Dock Ellis Story (Pt. 1)

These guys from Austin, Texas "Baseball Iconoclasts, LLC" are making The DOCKumentary. We found each other a while back and since then I have signed on to help them when I can with advice and ideas, all that I can. The subject of Dock Ellis, the infamous Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher, and all around bad ass motherfucker is very close to my heart.

And right now they are trying to raise funds over on Kickstarter for the film. I think it's a very worthy cause and should be a fun inspiring flick for anyone and everyone.

So as part of the fundraising they have occasional updates and teasers of information to keep people coming back and turning their friends onto the project. Last week they asked me if I'd participate in a "Five Questions" Q&A on Dock, and my story and interest in him. I was more than happy to oblige and finally write down the story for the internet world to check out.

Here are a couple of my answers and some of the photos I shared with them - PLEASE SUPPORT THIS FILM, Go to the Kickstarter page and give a couple a bucks, or more, what ever you feel like. Thanks!

Full piece Five Questions with Glen E. Friedman - HERE.
Do people understand how much Dock Ellis was alone on the frontier in his time?

I don't think so, at all, other than a handful of fans and dedicated historians. Culturally, he was incredibly significant, though only time would tell, and those thirsty enough for knowledge and history would ever know. That is, if it wasn't for this film, which I hope will help spread the knowledge of the truly great player and human being Dock Ellis was. He was a fucking hero to me, that's for sure.

How did you meet Dock Ellis?

I first met Dock at Shea Stadium, here in New York, when I was a kid around 11 years old. When I went to games, I was fervent about getting autographs and memorabilia and I would always get there early to watch batting practice and to try to talk to the players ... asking for autographs, loose practice balls, broken bats, whatever a player had access to.

One afternoon Dock walked over to me, probably 1973, and asked why was I yelling so much. Of course I just wanted his attention, to say hello and to get an autograph. He said relax, not to worry, after he was done practicing he'd come back over and give me an autograph. A few minutes later, he came over and asked me why I wasn't wearing an authentic Dock Ellis shirt? I happened to be wearing the nearest thing to a game jersey one could get in the early seventies - a 100% nylon Willie Stargell kid's jersey I picked up in Cooperstown, just across from the Baseball Hall of Fame. There was Dock, pulling at my most prized shirt and asking why was I wearing a fake. I was bummed he was making fun of my favorite shirt, so I asked him, "Well, where can I get one of the Dock Ellis shirts you're talking about? I've never seen one." He didn't really clue me in on that, but he signed my autograph book, for the first of many times.

Eventually in the conversation... Dock told me to meet him by the press gate later in the day, once he was sure he wouldn't be called upon to pitch (midway through the 2nd game of a double header). I went to the designated place at the designated time and there came Dock strutting out in platform shoes, double-knit black flair paints and a red fishnet t-shirt. He was behind a fenced-in area, near the press gate and player entrance. People saw him and started yelling his name, "Dock, Dock!" He walked straight towards me. He's got a brown paper bag, lunch bag sized, in his hand. He knelt down and started to talk to me, and said, "Don't open this up! Don't even peek inside this bag, until you get back to your seat, otherwise you won't get outta here alive." I said, "OK, Thanks Dock! See you around ..." thinking I'd got some super cool "Official" Dock Ellis T-Shirt.

I got back to my seat and looked inside the bag then, as discreetly as possible. I didn't really believe my eyes, so I couldn't just peek in the bag, I had to take out the contents to really see what it was, if in fact it was, yes it was his actual game jersey right off his back! I had a Number 17 Pittsburgh Pirates visiting team jersey. That was the first time I met Dock, but I saw him and hung out with him several times over the years after that.

How did Dock become an inspiration to you, leading to a dedication in the first printing of your book Fuck You Heroes?

Dock just being who he was to me, a pro ballplayer who was so friendly and mad cool, giving me not only the time of day, but the shirt off his back, literally. He took me into the clubhouse over the years, down on the field, breaking in my glove during batting practice. But most of all, what he signed in my autograph book and on a ball, after I actually knew him, stuck with me the most "Glen - Believe In Yourself. I Do. Dock"

Go to the KickStarter page and check out the full piece Five Questions with Glen E. Friedman .

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