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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Inventor of the High Five

Glenn Burke was credited with inventing the high five in 1977, early in his MLB career. Unfortunately, he was outed as a gay man that offseason, and his career and his life were both shortened.

The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: July 24, 2014 at 07:28 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball, dodgers, gay rights, lgbt

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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 08:24 PM (#4757250)
Hard to believe 1977 was the first time in history someone stuck his hand in the air to give or receive a high five.
   2. Batman Posted: July 24, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4757252)
Glenn 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.”
Sounds like Dusty invented it.
   3. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: July 24, 2014 at 08:47 PM (#4757267)
And he almost certainly didn't invent the high-five. Though he and the Dodgers may have popularized it.
   4. kthejoker Posted: July 24, 2014 at 09:31 PM (#4757286)
   5. Bruce Markusen Posted: July 24, 2014 at 09:56 PM (#4757295)
It might be better to say that Glenn Burke was the man who brought the high five to baseball.

Prior to the mid-1970s, I remember players putting their palms out in front of them, holding them low below the waist, and then allowing their teammates to slap both of the hands from up above. I don't know what you call that (is it a low five?), but it was THE popular way to congratulate someone for hitting a home run, at least for a few years.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:01 PM (#4757298)
Who invented the "Slam me high, slap me low, you're too slow?" Garvey?
   7. JE (Jason) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:13 PM (#4757307)
I don't know what you call that (is it a low five?)

No, Bruce, that's just "gimme five." IIRC, the low five is what the Mets popularized in the late 80s.
   8. boteman Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:20 PM (#4757310)
Steve Martin, in a "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" Saturday Night Live skit in the 1970s, held out the palm of his hand to Garrett Morris and said, "Slap my hand, black soul man!!" Not a high-five, but a gimme-five.

So it originated with black American culture??

And nowhere in this discussion is the list of high fives by The Todd
   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:24 PM (#4757311)
But there is no doubt that Antonio Alfonseca invented the high six.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: July 24, 2014 at 10:41 PM (#4757325)
Steve Martin, in a "Two Wild and Crazy Guys" Saturday Night Live skit in the 1970s, held out the palm of his hand to Garrett Morris and said, "Slap my hand, black soul man!!" Not a high-five, but a gimme-five.

"Gimme five on the n*gg*r side" was around at least as early as the early 60's, though I doubt it was used much in baseball (smile). And anyway, that wasn't a high five to begin with, but rather an exchange of the sort that Martin and Morris practiced a decade later.
   11. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4757346)
The low five was around at least during WW2 in African American culture. Like everything else, white men stole it and ruined it. (I'm kidding)

I, like Ray, find it highly unlikely that the high five didn't exist in some form prior to the 1970s. I'm actually shocked we don't have evidence of it much further back, other forms of ritualized contact like the handshake or bowing goes back thousands of years.

   12. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 24, 2014 at 11:46 PM (#4757355)
Hell, I feel like *I* may have high-fived someone when I was three years old in 1976. That'd have made me the inventor. I'm going through our old Super 8 home movies now.

I will say this: a search of the term "high five" in SI's Vault reveals nothing before 1980, as (if I did it right) a similar search of the NYT archives reveals nothing (of relevance) before then either.

I admit I expected to find the phrase used prior to 1977 in either/both outlets.

A usage of the phrase (in context) in print or anywhere on tv pre-1977, or video of the high five being performed, would settle this once and for all.
   13. Dale H. Posted: July 24, 2014 at 11:52 PM (#4757358)
A moderately high five is given here.
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 12:25 AM (#4757368)
I just scanned through a bunch of big home runs from the 60s on youtube (Mantle's 500th, Maris's 61st, Williams's 521st, Mazeroski's, etc.) and yeah it's pretty amazing, they basically just do the quick handshake, no high fiving at all.

   15. Gary Truth Serum Posted: July 25, 2014 at 09:33 AM (#4757455)
Gene Wilder delivered a high five to Zero Mostel in "The Producers", released in 1967. This was conclusively demonstrated by Joe Piscopo in a pregame show clip before Game 4 of the 1983 NLCS.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 09:57 AM (#4757470)

I just scanned through a bunch of big home runs from the 60s on youtube (Mantle's 500th, Maris's 61st, Williams's 521st, Mazeroski's, etc.) and yeah it's pretty amazing, they basically just do the quick handshake, no high fiving at all.


"Golden Age of Baseball", my ass.
   17. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4757473)
But there is no doubt that Antonio Alfonseca invented the high six.


Credit for the high three goes to Mordecai Brown, of course.

The high zero goes in Pete Gray's column.
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4757501)
The high zero goes in Pete Gray's column.


I thought that was Jim Abbot.
   19. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4757520)
I forgot all about Abbott! I am now vying with snapper in the History's Greatest Monster sweepstakes.
   20. zonk Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4757535)
Gray, check.... Alfonseca, check.... Mordecai Brown, check...

Well, there's nothing left to contribute here.
   21. Batman Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4757541)
Bob Wickman's high 4.5 just made people uncomfortable, but not as much as Roger Metzger's high one-plus-parts-of-four.
   22. zonk Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4757553)
I was wrong -

I think Bobby Ojeda invented the high 4.5 before Wickman...
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 25, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4757581)
Didn't Abbott have about a .15 or two somewhere on the stump?
   24. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 25, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4757593)
Gray, check.... Alfonseca, check.... Mordecai Brown, check...

Well, there's nothing left to contribute here.


Randy Johnson has no chin. John Kruk is minus one ball. That outfielder in "The Naked Gun" ended up with no head. Don't give up hope!
   25. Batman Posted: July 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4757599)
Kermit Washington and Rudy Tomjanovich invented the fist bump. It's been refined over the years.
   26. Zach Posted: July 25, 2014 at 03:24 PM (#4757710)
Google Ngram

There's no doubt it took off in the 1980s, but there's a low and persistent usage going back at least as far as the 1870s.
   27. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: July 25, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4757716)
Randy Johnson has no chin. John Kruk is minus one ball.


Ben McDonald has no arm -- e-i-e-i-o.
   28. winnipegwhip Posted: July 25, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4757726)
I thought Eddie Gaedel invented the high five after getting a walk in 1951.
   29. Zach Posted: July 25, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4757810)
Looking harder at my Ngram results, it looks like almost all of the hits before the 1980s are simply "high" and "five" appearing coincidentally next to each other. If we take the long level tail as the natural background frequency, it does indeed look like the term was invented right around 1980.
   30. Al Kaline Trio Posted: July 25, 2014 at 08:32 PM (#4757882)
High five? Whatever I invented the question mark?

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