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Monday, August 08, 2011

The history and mystery of the high five

Tommy Lasorda is dumber than ten dogs high-fiving.

It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros’ J.R. Richard. It was Baker’s 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers—Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith—with at least 30 homers each. It was a wild, triumphant moment and a good omen as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked it. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” says Baker, now 62 and managing the Reds. “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

Burke then stepped up and launched his first major league home run. And as he returned to the dugout, Baker high-fived him. From there, the story goes, the high five went ricocheting around the world. (According to Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, the game was not televised, and no footage survives.)...

It was around that time that Burke struck up a relationship with Spunky Lasorda, aka Tommy Lasorda Jr. Spunky was a lithe young socialite who frequented West Hollywood’s gay scene, smoking cigarettes from a long holder. A 1992 GQ profile of Spunky portrays his homosexuality as an open secret. But his father was in staunch denial and remained so even after Spunky’s death in 1991 from pneumonia. GQ reported that the death certificate said his illness was likely AIDS-related. “My son wasn’t gay. No way,” Lasorda Sr. told the magazine.

Burke and Spunky’s relationship didn’t become public until years later and remains ambiguous. Burke’s sister, Lutha Davis, insists the two men were just close friends. In his 1995 memoir Out at Home, co-authored with Erik Sherman, Burke went out of his way to leave the true nature of their relationship unclear. “That’s my business,” he wrote. He also explained that Lasorda Sr.‘s homophobia was something he and Spunky commiserated about. Burke described them turning up together at Lasorda’s house one night, done up in pigtails and drag, hoping to stage a kind of gay Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. They chickened out before knocking on the door.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 08, 2011 at 09:10 PM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, dodgers

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   1. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 08, 2011 at 10:17 PM (#3895678)
Spunky Lasorda, aka Tommy Lasorda Jr.


That's certainly an awkward nickname for a gay man, at least if we're thinking of it as a slang term.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: August 08, 2011 at 11:59 PM (#3895781)
That's certainly an awkward nickname for a gay man, at least if we're thinking of it as a slang term.


Or a heterosexual male if you are thinking of it as a slang term.
   3. Spahn Insane, weapons grade plum Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:43 AM (#3895825)
I'm not sure how one could possibly infer that a grown man who hangs in the West Hollywood gay district, smokes cigarettes from a long holder, and goes by "Spunky" might be gay. You gonna trust all that over the word of the man's own sweet dad?

As if I needed another reason to dislike Tommy Lasorda...
   4. Swoboda is freedom Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:44 AM (#3895826)
Spunky Lasorda, aka Tommy Lasorda Jr.

That's certainly an awkward nickname for a gay man, at least if we're thinking of it as a slang term.


Well, Lasorda was a pitcher.
   5. zachtoma Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:50 AM (#3895836)

As if I needed another reason to dislike Tommy Lasorda...


I thought this was the main reason everyone here disliked Tommy Lasorda.
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:53 AM (#3895840)
but dogs love him
   7. Bob Evans Posted: August 09, 2011 at 12:53 AM (#3895842)
I thought the high five was invented by U. of Louisville basketballers.
   8. puck Posted: August 09, 2011 at 01:37 AM (#3895947)
Sounds like there's a bit of a curse in inventing the high five.
   9. Craig in MN Posted: August 09, 2011 at 02:45 AM (#3896030)
I know for a fact that Antonio Alfonseca didn't invent the high five, and odds are good that neither did Mordecai Brown.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: August 09, 2011 at 03:01 AM (#3896041)
I'm not sure how one could possibly infer that a grown man who hangs in the West Hollywood gay district, smokes cigarettes from a long holder, and goes by "Spunky" might be gay. You gonna trust all that over the word of the man's own sweet dad?


Also, 30-somethings die of non-AIDS related pneumonia all of the time in California.
   11. Hugh Jorgan Posted: August 09, 2011 at 03:48 AM (#3896063)
punky was a lithe young socialite who frequented West Hollywood’s gay scene, smoking cigarettes from a long holder.

This is so good I cannot even comment any further...
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: August 09, 2011 at 04:10 AM (#3896066)
I don't have high expectations for men born in the 1920s in terms of their open-mindedness about their son's possibly different expression of sexuality.

If any of you guys are convinced that you are so primally enlightened that even if you grew up in that era with that upbringing, that you'd all overcome the societial influences and stand out as bastions of reason, more power to you. I guess.

Disagreeing with the opinions of an 83-year-old man is one thing. But most people tend to be a product of their times. Sometimes on BBTF, it seems like we have this super-colony of great thinkers who believe themselves to be immune from the perhaps backwards social mores of their day.

A man's son died, and he grieves. And his failure to, in that time of grief, adapt to more modern social views about human behavior makes him an object of derision.

Pass.
   13. Morty Causa Posted: August 09, 2011 at 04:44 AM (#3896071)
It's a feature of rank and invidious historical presentism. Everyone of us is prone to it, but the conventional wisdom once was that you should fight if you really wanted to try to understand history. We no longer do; we just want to characterize it in a way that suits present political purposes.
   14. Halofan Posted: August 09, 2011 at 07:40 AM (#3896103)
LA Times covered up AIDS as a cause of death of Tommy Jr. as a favor to Tommy. Still sticking to the story, only going so far as to say "there were reports".

I give Tommy Lasorda a pass based on his being a member of a different generation, sure, but the LA Times covering up the facts of the man's death as a favor to a powerful insider is the antithesis of what journalism stands for.
   15. Bob Evans Posted: August 09, 2011 at 10:56 AM (#3896115)
Howie, it's not his first reaction to his son that folks are criticizing. It's that he had many years to figure out his kid and clung to his raising.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2011 at 11:37 AM (#3896117)
I'm willing to call it the non-sequitir of the year though. Dusty Baker high-fived Burke ... and, oh, by the way, did you know ...
   17. Gary Truth Serum Posted: August 09, 2011 at 01:10 PM (#3896152)
Anyway, the premise of the article is flawed. The high five was not invented in 1977. but instead was invented nine years earlier by Zero Mostel in The Producers. This was conclusively demonstrated by Joe Piscopo on an NBC pregame show during the baseball playoffs.
   18. gef, more dangerous than a monkey w/ a razor blade Posted: August 09, 2011 at 01:33 PM (#3896161)
But most people tend to be a product of their times.


HW, I'm pretty sure, no longer advocates slavery.
   19. Howie Menckel Posted: August 09, 2011 at 02:26 PM (#3896194)
"I give Tommy Lasorda a pass based on his being a member of a different generation, sure, but the LA Times covering up the facts of the man's death as a favor to a powerful insider is the antithesis of what journalism stands for."

Interesting.

The son was not a public figure, really, so different rules may apply. If the cops wouldn't declare a cause, and the paper has no specific evidence, probably a heck of an internal debate at the paper.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: August 09, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3896206)
For the record, like Fletch I didn't like the self-promoting jackass long before I knew about his dead gay son. So nothing much changed for me on that front.
   21. phredbird Posted: August 09, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3896465)
A man's son died, and he grieves. And his failure to, in that time of grief, adapt to more modern social views about human behavior makes him an object of derision.

Pass.


i've commented on lasorda on this matter before. i work with a guy who knew the younger lasorda. apparently the father and son got along just fine. according to my friend, tom jr. knew his father's pov and was philosophical about it, and told my friend that he liked his dad anyway.

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