The History and The Powerful Meanings of the High Five

The History and The Powerful Meanings of the High Five

The high five is a universal gesture of celebration and recognition that has been around for decades. Whether it's after a sports victory or simply greeting a friend, the high five is an iconic gesture that many people take for granted. But where did the high five come from, and how did it become such a popular symbol of triumph and camaraderie? In this article, we will delve into the history of the high five and explore how it has evolved over time.

The Birth of the High Five

The origins of the high five can be traced back to a specific moment in sports history. On October 2, 1977, the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing against the Houston Astros in a crucial game. The Dodgers' Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run of the season, breaking the record for the most home runs by a player in his first season with a new team. As Baker rounded third base and headed toward home plate, his teammate Glenn Burke was waiting for him with his arm raised high in the air. In that moment, Burke and Baker slapped hands, creating what would later become known as the first high five.

But why did Burke and Baker choose to celebrate in this way? According to Burke, the high five was a way to show solidarity with his teammate, who had been facing discrimination from fans and players alike due to his race. "It was a symbol of unity," Burke said. "It was a way of saying, 'We're in this together.'"

From Baseball to Mainstream Popularity

After Burke and Baker's high five, the gesture began to spread throughout the world of sports. Players on other teams started using it to celebrate their own victories, and soon the high five became a staple of post-game rituals in baseball, basketball, and other sports. But it wasn't until the 1980s that the high five began to make its way into mainstream culture.

One of the first major appearances of the high five in pop culture was in the 1980 film "Airplane!" In one memorable scene, the character played by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gives a high five to a young passenger while flying the plane. The film helped to popularize the gesture outside of sports, and soon the high five became a common way for people to express excitement and congratulations in all sorts of contexts.

The Many Variations of the High Five

As the high five became more popular, it also began to evolve. People started coming up with new variations on the basic gesture, from the low five (a high five done at waist level) to the air five (a high five done without actually touching hands). Some people even started doing the high five with their feet!

In recent years, the rise of social media has given people even more opportunities to experiment with the high five. There are now countless videos online of people giving high fives in all sorts of creative and unexpected ways. Whether it's a group of friends doing a synchronized high five or a celebrity giving a high five to a fan in the audience, the possibilities are endless.

The Legacy of the High Five

Today, the high five is more popular than ever. It's a simple gesture that can bring people together and create a sense of shared excitement and achievement. Whether you're celebrating a sports victory or just saying hello to a friend, the high five is a way to show your enthusiasm and support.

But beyond its practical uses, the high five has also become a symbol of something bigger. It's a reminder that we're all in this together, and that we can accomplish great things when we work as a team. In a world that often seems divided and polarized, the high five is a small but important way to connect with others and celebrate our common humanity.


In conclusion, the high five is a small but significant part of our cultural landscape. From its humble origins in a baseball game to its current status as a beloved pop culture phenomenon, the high five has become a symbol of camaraderie, excitement, and solidarity. Whether we're celebrating a sports victory, greeting a friend, or expressing our support for a cause, the high five is a simple but powerful way to connect with others and share our enthusiasm for life. So the next time you have a chance to give someone a high five, go for it – you might just make their day!


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