Thursday, December 31, 2015


Dock Ellis came to the New York Mets when he was traded from the Texas Rangers in exchange for Bob Myrick and Mike Burhert on June 15, 1979. The flamboyant right-hander was a former National League All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates who claimed to throw his no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while under the influence of LSD. "I was as high as a Georgia pine," Dock said in the ESPN Outside the Lines feature on his career. The famous game was caught by future Mets catcher Jerry May on June 12, 1970.

There is no question that Ellis was a product of the wild 1970s and battling drug abuse. What made him stand apart was his courage and fearlessness both on and off the mound. "It's hard to find someone real in this world," former teammate Al Oliver offered when asked about Ellis. "Dock was for real. If he had something to say to you, he would say it to your face." The pitcher was a boisterous proponent for the African American athlete in a time when there were few brave enough to question inequality. His biography, "Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball" was first published in 1976.

When he joined the Mets it was obvious that time had taken it's toll and the end of his pitching career was near. Dock started 14 games for the club and finished with a 3-7 record over 85 innings of work, posting a 6.04 ERA. On September 21st his contract was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he would make his final start in the nightcap of a double header and retire from baseball on September 24, 1979.

Ellis entered a substance abuse treatment center in Arizona after leaving baseball and worked after that as a drug and alcohol counselor in California. At times working with prison inmates. The New York Yankees hired him in the 1980s to speak about substance abuse to their minor leaguers.

Film director Ron Howard cast Ellis in his 1986 movie, "Gung Ho". Dock is featured as a member of the American autoworkers softball team that play their Japanese managers.

"You know, I'm just clean and sober and going on about my business," Dock told the Dallas Observer in 2005. "But there's gotta be a place for me in baseball. I should be with baseball. But that's partly my fault, I alienated myself. I left baseball with the wrong impression about the people who ran the game. 'Cause I had that paranoia that everybody was out to get me."

Dock passed away in Los Angeles, California following a long battle with liver disease on December 19, 2008.

"He was so unique. He was viewed by some people as an outlaw, but he was far from that." his agent Tom Reich remembered. "He was so ahead of his time. He was so intuitive and smart and talented and independent. And he wasn't about to roll over for the incredible prejudices that existed at the time."

Dock Ellis's card is the set was created from an autographed index card in my collection.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Terry Blocker was selected by the New York Mets organization in the first round (4th overall pick) of the 1981 Amateur Draft. The junior from Tennessee State University also was a part of their football and basketball teams. "It's the most exciting moment of my life, but I haven't really proven anything yet." Blocker told the New York Times from his home in Columbia, SC. "If everything works out and barring injury, I hope to be in the majors in a few years."

Terry played well in the Mets minor league system. Moving his way up to a full season of Triple-A baseball in 1984. He was a part of the club's major league roster leaving spring training camp the next season. Blocker made his big league debut as a pinch-runner when the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 at Shea Stadium on April 11, 1985. Terry would get his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter the next day facing the Cincinnati Reds in New York. Grounding out to Reds' pitcher, Mario Soto to lead off the seventh inning. It was the only official at-bat that he would receive in his four appearances before the Mets returned him to the Tidewater Tides when Ray Knight was activated from the disabled list on April 20th.

Blocker was recalled back to New York on May 13th when Darryl Strawberry tore the ligament between the thumb and index finger of his right hand during a diving catch against the Philadelphia Phillies. Strawberry required surgery and was sidelined for two months. Terry was added to the roster as a reserve outfielder for the time Darryl would be gone. Blocker got his first career base hit as the starting left fielder during the Mets 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium on June 2nd.

Terry's major league season ended on June 9th after colliding with right fielder Danny Heep in pursuit of a fly ball to center field. Blocker injured his left knee and was forced to the 15-day disabled list. When he returned it was to finish the season with the Tides.

Blocker was among the league leaders at the Triple-A level for the next few years until being traded to the Atlanta Braves on November 11, 1987. "The Mets finally gave me a break," he said from Braves spring training camp in 1988. "The Mets have been stacked with so much talent in the outfield. They saw I could be consistent, but there was no room for me."

Terry returned to major league baseball as a replacement player during the strike of 1995. He was a member of the Atlanta Braves spring training camp in West Palm Beach when tragedy struck. Blocker became a Pentecostal deacon following his baseball career. While witnessing to teammate Dave Shotkoski the two men formed a friendship. Walking home one night, Shotkoski was robbed and murdered on the sidewalk to his motel. Terry spent the next 48 hours on the streets of West Palm, asking questions and doing whatever he could to locate the killer. Acting on a tip given to them by Blocker the police made an arrest that led to the eventual conviction of the murderer. Terry refused the $10,000 reward offered by the Atlanta Braves and West Palm police. "That was not my motivation," Blocker said, "I was looking for satisfaction of a different kind. A life was taken, but now I have the opportunity to go out and tell people about this experience I had. Maybe it will help other people come to the kingdom of God."

I created Terry Blocker's card in the set from an autographed index card obtained from his home address on December 18, 2007.