April 16 is a special day in baseball history. On April 16, 1941 Bob Feller threw the only Opening Day no-hitter. Also, on this day, people celebrate National High Five Day. What does National High Five Day have to do with baseball? Well, the first-ever high five occurred on the field at Dodger Stadium.
On October 2, 1977, Dodgers outfielder Dusty Baker (maybe better known as the recent former Reds manager) hit a home run off of Astros pitcher J.R Richards. It was Baker’s 30th big fly. When Baker got back to home plate, his teammate Glenn Burke raised his hand up in celebration. Not knowing what to do, Baker just slapped it, and that became the first ever high five. It started as a mistake by a Dodgers outfielder, but became a tradition for when celebrating you do something good.
Here’s a link to a cool story on Grantland about the high five.
(Glenn Burke also has an interesting history as the first and only MLB player to be out as gay. He faced a lot of bad prejudice and left professional baseball when he was 27).
Baseball high fives are still in the news. About a month ago, pink eye was spreading around the Milwaukee Brewers spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona. The team banned high fives so that players wouldn’t catch the contagious disease. They gave fist bumps instead.
There is still some dispute over who invented the high five. Some people say that it was invented at a University of Louisville Cardinals basketball practice, when Wiley Brown and Derek Smith gave a low five to each other, but quickly changed into a high five. I like to believe that it was invented by Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker.
The “holiday” National High Five Day was started in 2002 at the University of Virginia. A group of students set up shop on the main quad of the campus and gave out high-fives and lemonade. You can celebrate National High Five Day just by giving out high fives or tweeting with the hashtag #NH5D.
National High Five Day was celebrated by the Washington Nationals Presidents:
I hope that National High Five day is a reminder to the Nats to get back on track and that we see a a lot more of this kind of post-game celebrating this year!