Toller, angenehm oldschoolig geschriebener Artikel auf ESPN – und es kommt echt, echt selten vor, dass ich mir Artikel über irgendwas mit Sport komplett durchlese – über die Geschichte des High Five, der etwas irreführend mit einem Hoax beginnt, dann in den Ursprüngen des High Five bei einem schwulen Baseball-Spielers ankommt, schließlich bei einem Trainingsspiel des Basketball-Teams der University of Louisville Ende der 70er landet, wo der Gruß wohl tatsächlich seine Wurzeln hat und dann unter anderem mit dem sensationellen Satz „Ultimately, the story of the high five is a ghost story“ endet.
It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers leftfielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep off the Astros' J.R. Richard. It was Baker's 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers -- Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith -- with at least 30 homers each. 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, now 62 and managing the Reds. "So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do."
Burke then stepped up and launched his first major league home run. And as he returned to the dugout, Baker high-fived him. From there, the story goes, the high five went ricocheting around the world. (According to Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, the game was not televised, and no footage survives.)
The high five was a natural outgrowth of Burke's personality. The Oakland native was an irrepressibly charismatic man who, even as a 24-year-old rookie that season, had become the soul of the Dodgers' clubhouse. He did Richard Pryor standup from memory and would stuff towels under his shirt and waddle bowlegged around the dugout, imitating Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. "He was a joyous, gregarious person," sports agent Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim says of Burke, a friend since childhood. "He could high-five you without necessarily going through the motion with his hand."
What most people didn't know was that Burke was gay. Following his retirement in 1980, he became the first major leaguer to come out. Even though he tried to keep his sexuality a secret during his playing days, there had been rumors in the clubhouse. And as the 2010 television documentary Out: The Glenn Burke Story revealed, Dodgers executives scrambled to squash those rumors at all costs: In the off-season of 1977, team VP Al Campanis offered Burke $75,000 to get married. (The Dodgers executive later explained the offer not as a bribe but as a "helpful gesture" to pay for Burke's honeymoon.) According to a friend, Burke rejected the marriage deal with a mix of wit and rebelliousness. He told Campanis, "I guess you mean to a woman."
Und, weil's passt: Improv Everywheres Klassiker – die High Five-Rolltreppe: