Dave CashNovember 20, 2009
“You got a no-no goin’.” – Dave Cash to Dock Ellis, June 12, 1970
Since I started Cardboard Gods back in ought six, certain players from the era of my childhood have surfaced repeatedly. They are the highest gods in my cardboard heaven (even if, in the case of at least one of them—starts with an R and ends with an eggie—I’m determined to hold onto a coal of childhood hatred): Jackson, Yastrzemski, Fidrych, Aaron, Seaver…
It’s not just that they attained great heights on the field during the 1970s; there’s also something iconic about them, something that connects to me on a vital level, the mere mention of the name strong enough to make me feel the flicker of the kind of engagement with the world that I felt most strongly as a child.
That engagement waned as I grew older, but it always flared up again whenever I considered another player who has made numerous appearances on this site: Dock Ellis. Something about the late great Dock always brings back the primary colors of my childhood, brings back a feeling like anything could happen.
He was an adventurous soul, something recently attested to in brilliant fashion by No Mas and artist James Blagden, who created the animated video below that tells, with the help of Dock Ellis himself, one of baseball’s greatest stories.
I would have featured a Dock Ellis card today, but it seems that I’ve already exhausted my collection of its Dock Ellis cards. Fortunately, I have a 1978 card that shows Dave Cash yapping away on the Montreal Expos bench, something he apparently did since he entered the league a few years earlier as a teammate of Dock Ellis on the Pirates. Cash plays a small but key part of Dock’s story, jabbering in a mocking way at the pitcher throughout his historic effort, and in doing so stridently flaunting one of the most strongly held superstitions in a game rife with superstitions. In Dock’s retelling, Cash comes off as a likable, extroverted fellow iconoclast, someone who may actually have defused the building tension throughout the game by talking about the elephant in the room. If something is happening, why not talk about what’s happening? And if something has happened, why not tell the tale? Dock Ellis told the tale, and now, thanks to No Mas, the tale is being experienced by a whole lot of people in a great, new way.
(Apparently, major league baseball has the game on video, but has neglected to air it. There is a petition to get the game aired. I gladly signed it.)
Anyway, onto Dock Ellis and a misty June day in 1970:
(Love versus Hate update: Dave Cash’s back-of-the-card “Play Ball” result has been added to the ongoing contest.)