View Full Version : Dusty's expressive 1977 contribution to sports history

03-07-2008, 08:02 PM

Baker cooked up a gesture of goodwill for generations
Steve Malone Managing Editor

Have you heard of Johnnie B. Baker Jr.? Ok, try again — Dusty Baker? Yeah, he had a nice career, and he has a son who was the Giants batboy and was nearly railroaded down at home plate during the 2002 World Series. Perhaps you are more familiar with him now. Baker, the current Cincinnati Reds manager, has not just put a footprint on the history of America’s national pastime; he has given it a five-finger salute.

It could have been the mix between Dodgerdogs and legendary Los Angeles smog in the air that set the stage that September night in 1977 when Baker blasted a home run deep into the night at Chavez Ravine that took sports into a brave new world displaying exuberance on the playing field.

Glenn Burke would have been less than even a smudge on the history of sport, if not for the hand which he extended to congratulate Baker after he crossed home plate. Baker responded in turn and the first high five was completed.

Thinking about how celebration in sport has evolved since then, I’m not sure whether to shake the man’s hand or say,

“Look at this Pandora’s box you have opened.”

Sure, you can say it was bound to happen eventually, players shaking hands and someone’s hand gets caught up in the air and they connect up high. But, Burke’s deliberate attempt has created a brave new world when it comes to showing who’s
the boss.

Take a look around the sports world — when do you see a player not flash five to a teammate to say, “I’m the man”?

David Ortiz and Daisuke Matsuzaka have made slap-slap-bow the thing to do in the nation, just as Jose Reyes and David Wright make the top of the dugout look like a dance floor from Studio 54. It’s pretty hard to find the player who will just flip the ball to the official and go on his way without showing
off for his accomplishment.

Recently, watching a classic Reds game, I noticed that even after Tom Seaver completed a no-hitter, there was not one high five coming his way.

The time before the high five — that’s just too weird for me.

Being a Mets fan who has not ever seen a pitcher in blue and orange toss a no-hitter, you can certainly count me as somebody who wants to see a player celebrate and throw around a few high fives. I’ll even be glad to see you throw down low or on the flip side, if you can go through a lineup and not give up a basehit.

Whether you enjoy Randy Moss pulling down his imaginary pants and flaunting his imaginary ass to Packer fans or if you lust for times when a good firm handshake was the way to say job well done, Baker has certainly given sports a timeless celebration.

On April 17, national high five day, I’ll give a high five for you, Dusty Baker.