Who invented the high five?

There is the Los Angeles Dodgers story. In 1977 after hitting his 30th home run of the season, Dusty Baker crossed home plate and saw his teammate Glenn Burke, the next batter, waiting with his hand in the air. Baker responded by hitting Burke's hand with his own.

And there is the Louisville Cardinals story. During the 1978-79 college basketball season, Wiley Brown and Derek Smith decided to elevate the traditional hand slap. "We were in practice and Derek came up to me and said give me five and I just stick my hand out," Brown tells WDRB. "One of us just said no, raise it up raise it up high."

The Cardinals went on to win the NCAA championship the next season, which helped popularize the gesture, and Brown, now a college coach in Indiana, is re-iterating that he and Smith were the originators.

WDRB 41 Louisville - News, Weather, Sports Community

Although the timeline favors the Baker-Burke version as being the first, ESPN investigated both claims in 2011 and concluded that the Dodgers and Cardinals could've come up with the idea independently:

It's nice to believe that something as magnificent as the high five could be invented only once, in a romantic, unforgettable flash. The truth is, such things are invented many times, by many people -- there are multiple mythologies rewritten over time.

Full Story >>

Mark Fidrych was a happy-go-lucky kid from Massachusetts. He was quoted as saying, during the height of his baseball success, he'd have been just as happy pumping gas as pumping fastballs by major league hitters. And he meant it. There wasn't an insincere bone in his body. He was supportive and thankful for his family, teammates and coaches. And the fans saw that. The most refreshing thing about him, it was all from his heart. Author Doug Wilson noticed after Fidrych's sad passing in a work accident in 2009 that no one had written his full story. He has corrected this oversight. On June 28, 1976, Fidrych became a national phenomenon thanks to a brilliant complete-game win against the Yankees on ABC's Monday Night Baseball. This excerpt of The Bird: The Life And Legacy Of Mark Fidrych examines the aftermath of that memorable night at Tiger Stadium, which triggered Birdmania and helped Fidrych become the first athlete to be featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

The next day, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was a national star. "Did you see that guy last night?" was asked around watercoolers, in lunchrooms, and at workplaces across the country.

Baltimore Oriole first base coach Jim Frey later said, "Everywhere I went the next day, and I got a haircut and stopped at the hardware store and then went and got some groceries, I visited a friend of mine, and we had some people over to the house -- all of them talked about one thing. I don't ever remember that happening before. I heard so many people talking about one baseball player."

First baseman Jason Thompson, who lived near Mark, told reporters that his phone rang off the hook the day after The Game. Mark didn't have a phone in his apartment, usually using a pay phone in a supermarket down the street when needed. As a nearby source of a phone, Jason spent a good deal of his time Tuesday fetching Mark.

Virginia Fidrych told a local reporter that she didn't get to bed until 5:15 AM the night of the Yankee game. "People just kept calling or coming in," she said. "I kept cooking ham and eggs for people I'd never seen before."

Mrs. Ann Jablonski, Northboro police radio dispatcher, said Fidrych's game was "all the officers could talk about this morning ... we're all very proud of him. He's putting Northboro and Worcester County on the map."

Everyone suddenly wanted to know more about The Bird. Seemingly every paper in the country dispatched someone to Detroit to find out about him. Where did he come from? What was he really like? Was it all just an act? Everyone wanted more of those funny quotes they heard about.

Tiger officials said that their phones had been ringing off the hook with fans calling wanting to know when Mark was scheduled to pitch next, reserving tickets, and trying to get in touch with Mark. Lew Matlin of the Tigers promotional office said that Mark received over 150 messages in the two days after the Yankee game.

He told reporters that he and Hal Middlesworth took Mark off to the side for a thirty-minute talk to advise him on what to expect and how to handle the situation. But the truth was, they didn't know what to expect themselves; they couldn't know what to expect -- there had never been anything like this demand for a particular player before.

Paul Fidrych, seeing what was happening, advised his son, "Don't get your head unscrewed." Tiger veterans also tried to give Mark advice on how to handle the media. "When I noticed all the attention he was getting, I tried to council him a little bit," says John Hiller. "Listen to the question and think a little before you answer and don't just blurt out the first thing that pops into your head. I also talked to him a little about how to carry himself in public, because everyone was going to be watching everything he did now. But he came from a good home, so he didn't have too much trouble. I don't think his parents had ever put him on a pedestal or made him feel he was more special than anyone else because he was a ballplayer, and so he didn't act that way. That helped his appeal."

And he certainly had appeal. Everyone loved The Bird. Mail began pouring in, everything from teenagers' marriage proposals to checks from people who thought he deserved more money. Teammates rigged up a gag telephone in his locker -- the better to handle all his personal calls. The wire services began a practice they would continue the rest of the summer of routinely running pictures of The Bird: blowing enormous bubbles while watching a game, fielding ground balls between his legs in warm-ups, sitting in the dugout with his feet propped up, yelling from the bench while a nearby cameraman covered his ears, talking with fans, signing autographs, gesturing on the mound, laughing with teammates -- in general just having a ball at the ballpark.

Articles about The Bird were printed in papers across the country that week. Most of them began by repeating many of the Bird stories of Hawkins and Ewald. Often, the articles were hastily thrown together with many mistakes regarding his family and hometown. Whatever was written became common knowledge, however, and was repeated by others whether it was accurate or embellished. Reporters were intent on building up the eccentric flaky angle and ignored statements to the contrary from Mark's teammates, such as Bruce Kimm who said, "He's not flaky," and Ralph Houk, who told them, "He's not quite as flaky as they say," and, "He's not nutty." The media as a whole recognized the great possibilities and piled on to make Mark into the greatest character baseball had seen in years. Dizzy Dean? Yogi Berra? Jimmy Piersall? Casey Stengel? Rank amateurs compared to The Bird. The giant snowball of The Bird myth was rolling downhill, picking up speed, unable to be stopped now.

Full Story >>

Even if you're not a baseball fan, you've probably heard of the Honus Wagner "cigarette" card.

One of the rarest trading items ever produced, the 1909 "cigarette" card even has its own plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame, where it's deemed sports' "most famous collectible."

There are less than 60 of these cards in existence, and it has become quite a spectacle whenever they go on sale. Five years ago one of the cards sold for a record $2.8 million, and now another card that's on the block could go for more.

According to the New York Post, a Wagner card currently on display at Audemars Piguet Flagship Boutique on East 57th Street could fetch as much as $3 million.

“If you collect art, you dream to own an original Picasso ... if you collect fine cars, you would dream to one day own a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testarossa," Goldin Auctions said in the card's description. "In the world of sports memorabilia, it is the ... Wagner, and this is the finest example you will likely have the chance to own in your lifetime."

The starting bid for the card was $500,000, and the auction ends on April 5.

Full Story >>

If it wasn't for Ruth Ann Steinhagen, who died recently in Chicago, Robert Redford's The Natural may have never existed.

Steinhagen's actions inspired Bernard Malamud's novel, which was turned into a popular and award-winning film some three decades later.

Her story starts some 60 years ago, when as a girl growing up in Chicago, Steinhagen had a crush on the Cubs handsome first baseman, Eddie Waitkus. Steinhagen was so heartbroken when Waitkus was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1948 season that she decided her only option was to kill him.

When the Phillies came to Chicago the next year to face the Cubs, the 19-year-old Steinhagen checked into Waitkus' hotel and lured him into her room. There, she took out a rifle from her closet and shot him in the chest. Waitkus nearly died several times during surgery to remove the bullet, but he instead made a full recovery and returned to the diamond the next year.

Waitkus is the inspiration for Roy Hobbs, Redford's character, in The Natural. Steinhagen's character, named Harriet Bird, was portrayed by Barbara Hershey.

Steinhagen never stood trial for the shooting, but she was sentenced to time in a mental institution. Her story became well-known throughout Chicago, and several years later author Bernard Malamud used it as the inspiration for his novel, The Natural. Steinhagen was deemed sane in 1952 and released from the mental institution. She faded into obscurity, and according to the Chicago Tribune, died in Chicago on Dec. 29.

Full Story >>

The green jacket awarded to 1959 Masters champ Art Wall Jr. is at the center of an ownership dispute between Augusta National Golf Club and a Florida man who paid more than $60,000 for the blazer at a recent auction.

This week Dallas judge Emily Tobolowsky ordered Heritage Auctions to freeze the sale of the jacket until ownership can be determined. Florida doctor Stephen Pyles bought the jacket at an auction last April for $61,452.55. But when he tried to sell the jacket through Heritage Auctions, Augusta National Golf Club filed a restraining order, claiming the club is the true owner of the jacket.

Jim James, Augusta’s senior director of club and hospitality operation, told reporters that the club discovered in June that four green jackets had disappeared. They belonged to Fuzzy Zoeller (1979), Gay Brewer (1967), George Archer (1969) and Wall (1959). James said several course employees stole the jackets and sold them to an auctioneer in Florida. While three jackets were tracked down and returned to August, Wall's remained missing.

"The green jacket to Augusta is the Statue of Liberty to New York or the Mona Lisa to the Louvre," James said.

According to James, until 2012 there was an unwritten agreement that players would leave their green jackets at the club. That changed in 2012, when Masters champion Bubba Watson was presented a formal letter saying he could not take his blazer.

Pyles has argued that several green jackets remain outside Augusta, and therefore he should be allowed to retain ownership.

Per Tobolowsky's ruling, Augusta will have to prove ownership at a trial on a later date.

Full Story >>

Tags:
Golf, Masters