This lovely new piece from ESPN’s Page 2 examines the origins of the modern-day high five and its surprising roots in sports history. The most surprising revelation perhaps is that the celebratory hand slap is dated so recently: the late 1970s. But many other revelations abound as the writer weaves us through the genealogy of the now-ubiquitous gesture – a path that winds through the dugout of the Los Angeles Dodgers, West Hollywood’s gay scene, the ’77-’78 Louisville basketball team, and one unfortunate practical joke.
The best line naturally comes right at the end, from the five’s purported inventor, and underscores the cultural impact of this one simple hand motion:
“You think about the feeling you get when you give someone the high five. I had that feeling before everybody else.”
-Glenn Burke, former Los Angeles Dodger, first openly gay MLB player, and possible inventor of the high five