March 1, 2021

Sadly, There’s No Photo of the First High-Five (Baseball Essential)

If the legends are to believed, the high-five was invented on October 2, 1977.

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Dusty Baker came into the final weekend of the season sitting on 29 home runs. Thirty homers was a big deal back then, and it was an even bigger deal for Baker, because his teammates Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, and Reggie Smith had already crossed the 30-homer threshold, and no team had ever had four 30-homer players in one season.

After going homer-less in his first ten plate appearances of the series, Baker came to bat against Houston Astros fireballer J.R. Richard in the bottom of the sixth inning still stuck on 29. With one ball and two strikes, Baker delivered, depositing a fastball from Rodney into the left-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium.

“I was just trying to hit the ball hard,” Baker said after the game.

But the big story, at least to history, was what happened at home plate after the homer. Dodgers rookie Glenn Burke was on deck, and when he met Baker at the plate, he exuberantly put his hand in the air. Slapping hands was a common celebration at the time, dating back at least to the 1920s. But raising the hand over the head for the hand-slap … that was…

Read “Sadly, There’s No Photo of the First High-Five” at Baseball Essential