Athletes are a special breed of human. They’re capable of creating superhuman feats, and rising above and beyond what normal people can do. Some athletes do this through training, others through natural talent, others let the adrenaline take over - and then there are those special athletes who played great drunk.
Some athletes don’t need any help to turn on whatever “it” is that makes them into a winning machine, they just do it. But most athletes who were high during some of their most spectacular moments will suggest that it was just how they coped with the stress of the game. Other times, it was just fun - after all, after years and years of traveling the country and playing the same game over and over, it can start to get boring. Whether out of nerves, boredom, or just because they can, here are some athletes who played better drunk and high than you ever will sober.
Sports stars who were high during games rarely discuss how dangerous it is to play a high-impact sport while getting googy on everything from booze to pills to LSD, and instead they focus on how they managed to pull out wins night after night. And that’s cool, but it has to be acknowledged that drunk sports stars playing a game that most people would kill to be a part of isn’t the most inspiring thing in the world. Still, there are athletes who you kind of expect to be high while they’re doing their job, and many of the NFL and MLB players from their golden eras were nothing more than high-functioning alcoholics. Keep reading and pour one out for these athletes who destroyed on the field while they were under the influence.
On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis, the pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and all-around cool guy, pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. According to Ellis, he woke up in LA on the day of the game because he had taken two tabs of LSD (this is '70s LSD by the way, not whatever garbage kids are taking now) and thought that he didn't have to pitch until the next day. After learning that he was supposed to play, he got down to San Diego, took a bunch of benzedryne (a stimulant), and started pitching.
Likely because of sense memory, Ellis instinctively knew what to do even if he couldn't actually see the players. "I didn't see the hitters, all I could tell was if they were on the right side or the left side."
And that's how you play baseball.
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Babe Ruth wasn't simply a man, he was a dumpster brought to life and imbued with the athletic prowess of a Greek god. The Sultan of Swing was a monstrous player, whose real life on the field has become so meshed with his own legend that it's hard to separate truth from fiction. Did Babe Ruth really drink five pints of whiskey out of a boot while batting in the 1918 World Series? Who knows.
Did he stay out all night in Chicago drinking with the team he would be playing against the next day, getting sh*t faced, only to show up the next day without having slept to destroy the White Sox? Apparently so.
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Mickey Mantle is one of the all-time baseball greats. He won all the awards, hit all the balls, and drink all of the alcohol. In 1963, Mantle suffered a foot injury that left him on the sidelines for a few weeks, and rather than spend the time rehabbing, he got wasted constantly. But then during one game he was called in to pinch-hit at the last minute.
Ruh-roh, Mickey! What Mantle remembers of the at-bat is seeing three balls coming his way and swinging at the middle one, and hitting a home run.
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Picture this nightmare of a scene: Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, there's a Beanie Baby promotion, and the crowd of 49,820 is full of screaming children. Even if you're stone-cold sober that sounds like a terrible set of circumstances under which to do your job. Now imagine that you're "half-drunk, with bloodshot eyes, monster breath, and a raging, skull-rattling hangover," having gone to bed at 5 am and gotten just an hour of sleep. No way, right?
Well, not if you're David Wells. On May 17, 1998, Wells pitched the 15th perfect game in major league history while he was blitzed out of his head. But you'd almost have to be if you were playing during a Beanie Babies promotion.
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