The Surprisingly Emotional Story Of The Man Who Invented The High Five

One-time Los Angeles Dodger Glenn Burke is credited for the universal gesture for a job well done. His own life was more complicated.

At the very end of the Los Angeles Dodgers's 1977 season, Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run. As he ran triumphantly across home plate, enthusiastic rookie Glenn Burke, waiting on deck, held his hand up high, signaling for Baker to give him the first-ever high five.

That instinct for how to instantly celebrate a perfect feeling of victory is what made Burke, by his teammates' accounts, the "life of the team," and the gesture is now a universal expression of positivity. (Read more on the history of the high five here.) But Burke's story is much darker and more poignant. The open secret that he was gay doomed his career, and he quit baseball just a few years later.

In this ESPN 30 For 30 short, Baker, along with other players and historians, recount Burke's story and his enduring legacy of high spirits and camaraderie.

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  • Glenn Burke was an exciting player who never got a fair shake by the Dodgers because of Tommy Lasorda. He was traded not only because of his sexuality but because he was friends with Lasorda's son who was also gay. "Uncle Tommy" refused to acknowledge his son's sexuality and sadly was in denial that like Burke, his son died fom the disease.

  • Angie Brown

    I don't have cable or satellite TV...so no ESPN...thanks for sharing this new-to-me story about a summer classic and an iconic American gesture!