Friends in South Los Angeles remember Ellis being flashy, funny and prone to getting into trouble, though the film doesn’t mention his arrest for grand theft just before the Pirates signed him, with the young pitcher released into the team’s custody.
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Awards: The Contenders Starting with footage of Ellis on the mound during his no-hitter, the docu soon segues to his next most memorable dust-up with baseball authorities, when he wore his hair in curlers to practice at Wrigley Field.
Using icons of the era – jokes by Robin Williams and Johnny Carson, the latter noting Ellis’ best pitches as “a fastball, a slider and a spit-curl,” as well as a Black Panthers training film – the docu makes its case that baseball and culture were colliding, and Ellis was at the center of that impact.
By 1971, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and had developed a reputation as the game’s black conscience.
While the film’s sense of chronology is at times strained and its tale of redemption hardly unique, its subject is certainly one of a kind.
History buffs, particularly those of the era, will want a seat in the ballpark; for Pittsburgh fans, this is a collectible.