Who Came Up with the High Five?

Quck answer

The invention of the high five is often attributed to a baseball player named Glenn Burke. In 1977, Burke, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, raised his hand to congratulate his teammate Dusty Baker after a home run. This gesture quickly caught on and became known as the high five. However, some people believe that the high five was actually invented earlier by basketball players or even earlier in African American communities. While the true origin may be uncertain, Glenn Burke is widely credited with popularizing the high five in the sports world.

Have you ever achieved a hat trick on the soccer field? Have you excelled on a major test at school? If so, you might have commemorated the moment by raising your hand high in the air towards a friend or teammate. As they reciprocate and you clap hands, you both participate in the celebration.

That’s correct! We’re discussing the high five. It may seem like the high five has been in existence forever. However, the Oxford English Dictionary has only recognized the term as a noun since 1980. It was included as a verb in 1981.

The name “high five” originates from the fact that you are raising five fingers (your hand) up in the air (high). But how exactly did this longstanding form of celebration come about? It turns out, there are several different accounts of the origin of the high five. The two most probable sources of the high five come from the sports of baseball and basketball.

For many years, it has been believed that the first high five occurred on October 2, 1977. On that day, it happened in Dodger Stadium between Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dusty Baker hit a crucial home run, making the Dodgers the first team in baseball history to have four players with at least 30 home runs each.

It was a magical sports moment. It boded well for the Dodgers, who were heading into the playoffs. The next batter was Glenn Burke. He headed to home plate to congratulate Baker. Burke raised his hand in the air towards Baker, who returned the gesture. They slapped hands. According to Baker, “[h]is hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back. So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.” And the rest, as they say, was history . . .

Or was it? There is another version of high five history. It attributes the invention of the hand gesture to Louisville Cardinals basketball players Wiley Brown and Derek Smith during the 1978-79 season. According to the players, Brown went to give a regular low five to teammate Smith during a practice session.

The low five had been a hand gesture popular among Black Americans since at least World War II. Instead of returning the low five, Smith looked Brown in the eye and said, “No. Up high.” Brown understood what Smith meant.

That year’s Louisville Cardinals players were known as the Doctors of Dunk. They liked to play above the rim and slam dunk the ball. Brown thought, why stay low when we play so high? So they raised their hands and the high five was supposedly born.

Both stories are well-documented. However, there are many other claims of high fives occurring in other sports even earlier. It is most likely that the gesture developed simultaneously in different sports in different areas until it gained popularity.

One thing is certain, though. The high five is a part of popular culture that is not likely to disappear anytime soon. So the next time you want to celebrate an achievement with a friend, just shout “High five!” and raise your hand in the air!

Try It Out

Are you ready to learn more about the high five? Find a friend or family member to help you explore the following activities:

  • Invite an adult friend or family member to accompany you to a sports event. It could be any type of sport at any level, ranging from high school soccer to professional baseball. If you are unable to find a live sporting event, you can watch one together on television. Pay attention to the players. How do they express their celebration when someone scores or makes an impressive play? Do you notice any high fives? What other ways do they celebrate? Discuss these observations with a friend or family member.
  • How do you typically celebrate your achievements with your teammates and friends? The high five is undoubtedly a timeless choice. However, can you think of other types of celebrations? Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to create a new form of celebration. It can involve hand gestures, foot movements, or even the knees or elbows. The choice is yours! Your creation could be a unique handshake, a dance or chant, or a modified version of the high five. Allow your imagination to run wild. Fantasize about winning the school spelling bee or your next soccer game. What kind of celebration would make your accomplishment feel even more special?
  • Celebrating with friends and teammates is wonderful, but what should you do when you lose a game, make a major mistake, or perform poorly? How can you be a source of encouragement to your friends and teammates when they don’t feel like celebrating? What methods do you use to console people or uplift their spirits? Offering support to individuals when they are feeling down can be just as vital as celebrating with them when they are happy. Create a list of ways in which you can encourage friends, teammates, and family members when things aren’t going well.

Wonder Sources

  • http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/6813042/who-invented-high-five (accessed 27 Jan. 2020)
  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/11/03/dusty-baker-and-his-high-five-history/?utm_term=.34c099131949 (accessed 27 Jan. 2020)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *