BTW, the high five was invented in 1977 which means your parents probably didn’t grow up with it.
For real though Glenn Burke, inventor of the high five was a gay black player in the 70s, and the Dodgers tried to get him to marry a beard and their manager got mad when he befriended the manager’s gay son before being traded to the Athletics, probably for being gay. In Oakland, the rumors of homosexuality followed him and manager Billy Martin started using homophobic slurs in the clubhouse and homophobic behavior from other players lead to an early retirement for the promising young star at 27. After retiring from baseball he introduced the high five to the Castro district of San Franscio where the high five became a symbol of gay pride and identification. ESPN wrote a long form piece about it which I recommend reading, it’s got some homophobic slurs in it although not presented positively.
A few appendices:
Although he was unceremoniously drummed out of Major League Baseball, Burke became the star shortstop for the local Gay Softball League, and even dominated in the Gay Softball World Series, as well as medaling in the 100 and 200 meter sprints in the inaugural 1982 Gay Games. Unfortunately, Burke also picked up a cocaine habit and had his leg and foot crushed in an accident. He spent much of his final years homeless in the Castro, and died from AIDS complications in 1995, but he was in the first class of inductees to the Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, and his High School retired his jersey number.
The Dodgers Manager in question was Tony Lasorda, whose son “Spunky” died of AIDS complications in 1992 although Lasorda maintains that it was cancer. Likewise, despite the High Five becoming a symbol of the 1980 Dodgers team, Lasorda maintained and continues to this day to maintain to not know its origin. It’s possible that this isn’t a deliberate slight to Burke, but given his homophobia in other matters that’s a hard benefit of the doubt to give.
The Athletics have, in the years since, attempted to make up for some of the wrongs they committed in this story. When Glenn revealed publicly that he was living with AIDS, the As moved in and helped him financially. Burke was honored publicly at Pride Night at the park in 2015 and his brother was invited to throw the first pitch.
Burke was happy to see the high five catch on, spilling out of sports and into the small joys of every day life. He died believing that the high five was his legacy. Next time you high five your friend, remember that the high five came from Glenn Burke.
there are actually several potential origin stories for the high five, none of which we can be sure is true because it’s not exactly well documented. however, this one is very nice