A 1999 electee to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals, Dock Ellis was often called the Muhammad Ali of baseball. During his 12-year Major League career (1968-1979), most of which was spent as a right-handed pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ellis was outspoken and controversial. He was a passionate critic of what he perceived as racial prejudice in baseball, particularly of bigotry by ownership and management. Ellis was also flamboyant and outrageous. In 1973 after Ebony magazine ran a feature on his “Superfly” hairstyle, Ellis became the darling of America’s hairdressers. When he walked onto the field in hair curlers during pregame workouts, it made the hair on Commissioner Bowie Kuhn’s head stand on end. Kuhn sent a letter to the pitcher, ordering him to cease and desist wearing curlers onto the field of play. Ellis reluctantly shelved the curlers, after declaring, “They didn’t put any orders about [Yankees star] Joe Pepitone when he wore a hairpiece down to his shoulders.”
Following his 1999 Shrine of the Eternals induction, Dock Ellis donated to the Baseball Reliquary all of the hair curlers and permanent rods he wore in 1973.