Bet You Didn’t Know: The Surprising Origins of the High-Five
The high-five is a ubiquitous gesture in modern society, used to celebrate victories, show appreciation, and express camaraderie. But did you know that the high-five has a surprising and somewhat controversial origin? In this article, we’ll explore the history of the high-five, its evolution, and the people behind this iconic gesture.
The first recorded instance of a high-five can be traced back to the 1977 baseball season. On October 2, 1977, the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing the Houston Astros in the final game of the regular season. The Dodgers’ Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run of the season, setting a new record for a team with four players who hit 30 or more home runs that year. As Baker rounded the bases, his teammate Glenn Burke greeted him at home plate with a raised hand, which Baker slapped in celebration.
Burke, who was openly gay, had been using the gesture with his teammates for some time, but this was the first time it was captured on camera and broadcast to a national audience. The high-five quickly became popular among athletes and fans alike, and it soon spread to other sports and beyond.
But the high-five’s origins are not without controversy. Some people claim that the gesture was actually invented earlier, in the 1940s, by African American athletes. They point to a photo from 1948 that shows two black basketball players at the University of Louisville giving each other a high-five.
Others argue that the high-five has even older roots, dating back to ancient Greece, where athletes would slap each other’s hands in celebration after winning competitions.
Regardless of its origins, there’s no denying that the high-five has become a cultural phenomenon. It’s been featured in movies, TV shows, and even has its own national holiday (National High-Five Day is celebrated on the third Thursday of April).
In recent years, the high-five has taken on new meaning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With handshakes and hugs discouraged due to social distancing guidelines, the high-five has become a safe and fun way to connect with others.
In conclusion, the high-five may have started as a simple greeting between teammates, but it has evolved into a powerful symbol of friendship, camaraderie, and celebration. Whether you’re high-fiving a friend after a game or giving a virtual high-five over video chat, this simple gesture has the power to bring people together and lift spirits.