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Baseball Cards, Gimme Five, and Freddie 'Boom-Boom' Washington
2005-01-13 09:44
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

Baseball cards and slapping five are the subjects of Alex Belth's great post this morning at Bronx Banter. Here's my comment.

I collected cards haphazardly as a kid - very organically, no designs on the future (although I've always been a packrat and have trouble throwing anything out). I even liked the gum. I know it was cardboard, but I liked it.

When I was about 10, in 1977 or thereabouts, for my birthday I got a vintage gumball machine that gave out a gumball and a baseball card in exchange for one penny. The machine came stacked with probably 300 baseball cards, all from the 1960s. It was an INCREDIBLE gift, certainly one of my best ever. I still have it, though I put marbles in where the gumballs go because it was gettin' kind of nasty.

The rest of my card collection (which is mainly baseball cards from the 1960s and 1970s that my brother and I saved, along with some football and basketball) is in what was once one of those huge containers of ice cream you see embedded in a Baskin Robbins/31 Flavors shop - together with an Oshman's Sporting Goods plastic bag filled with ticket stubs that I collected from the 1970s and 1980s. Again, it was very much the unstrategic, vacuum cleaner approach: I can remember one night, after a UCLA basketball game at Pauley Pavilion, walking through the stands and picking up every ticket stub that was left on the ground. But there is some real good stuff in there as well, tickets from big games, playoff tickets for games that were never played, tickets that were unused. Do those have any value? No idea.

As for slapping five (aka the low five) vs. the high five, I've written about it before: "Nearing its 30th birthday, the high five has seen disco come and go, and come and go. It has seen Charlie’s Angels both as television series and movie. In the history of the western world, what hand greetings, outside of the handshake, have stood the test of time better than the high five?"

There was an article in the Times a few months ago - I have no hope of finding it - about how the word "cool" has remained in style for decades, while other words such as "groovy" went from hip to, well, decidedly uncool in a much smaller span. The high five appears to be a blood brother of "cool."

But I can remember how new and different the high five was. I can remember being on the playground in third grade during recess and slapping five while imitating the guys on Welcome Back, Kotter. The change to the high five was like when I was a couple years younger and learning to dribble a basketball with one hand instead of two, or when I had to get used to the "Pac-10" instead of the "Pac-8."

The new is completely strange, until the old is completely strange.

What are your thoughts and memories? (And some of you big-name lurkers out there - don't be shy about jumping in.)

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