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High Five

Dusty Baker stood at the home plate in the 6th Inning, last game of the 1977 season. He stared down the Houston Astro’s pitcher, J.R. Richard. The crowd in Dodger Stadium was unusually loud that day, especially for a regular season game of no consequence. You see, Dusty had 29 home runs that year. That is a good feat, but not anything special. What was amazing was that four other players on the Dodgers had over 30 Home Runs that season. With everyone holding their breath, the bat cracked, pandemonium. As Dusty rounded the bases, he saw his teammate Glenn Burke waiting at home plate with his hands in the air,  he did what came natural. He reached up and slapped his hand. A moment captured, memorialized forever by kids of every age. In the words, of Jon Moolem the journalist covering the game:

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 … “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

Thus was born the high five. Sort of. You see this concept seem to come out of inner city Chicago, or other urban areas. A very popular saying in the 1920’s by young black Americans would commonly say, give me five. Meaning five fingers. This was usually done low, with the hand extended below the waist and was called a low five. The basketball community had this phrase as well, and many claim that Magic Johnson made it popular by slapping the hands of people sitting on the bench as he ran by in college.

Anyway, I crawled out of my office late last night and my daughter “gave me five.” Helped me feel better for some reason, so I looked up where that phrase actually came from. Thought I would share. Go give someone a high five. It will help you feel better.

Guy Reams

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