Welcome to the Tiger Rag High Five list of all-time LSU sports greats

The high five.

Some say the congratulatory slapping of palms started with Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke after Baker hit a home run on the last day of the regular season in October 1977.

Baker’s 30th homer of the year made the Dodgers the first team in history to have four hitters with at least 30 home runs each in a single season.

A jubilant Burke, who had been waiting on deck, thrust his hand high above head when he met Baker as he crossed the plate.

“His hand was up in the air, and he was arching way back,” Baker said to journalist Jon Mooallem. “So, I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

Former Louisville basketball players Wiley Brown and Derek Smith claim they invented the high five in a practice during the 1978-79 season. Other historians say the high five originated in the 1960s women’s volleyball circuit.

The high five has evolved through the decades to more elaborate and choreographed celebrations between athletes. But now, there’s the question if high fives will become extinct because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an age of social distancing, will athletes still give each other and coaches high fives after big plays or exchanges between players running in and out of games when substitutions are made?

If the days of the high five are numbered, we thought we’d put it to good use one more time.

So, welcome to the Tiger Rag Magazine LSU Sports High Five as a 15-member media panel with a collective 582 years of sports journalism experience picked the five best of all-time in 21 Tigers’ sports categories.

The LSU Sports High Five is the centerpiece of our June issue of Tiger Rag Magazine, which will be in the usual grocery stores and restaurants free for pickup on June 10.

We’ll publish the category winners here on tigerrag.com daily over the next three weeks.

The LSU Sports High Five Tiger Rag media panel voters were provided information on six to 10 nominees in each category based on their performance and accomplishments, and were asked to rank the nominees one through five. The panel voters could also submit write-in candidates.

Scoring was tallied as 5 points for a first-place vote, 4 for second-place, 3 for third-place, 2 for second place and 1 for last-place. Ties were not broken.

In the case of the best male and female athletes, those categories were determined from the winners in all the other categories who had the highest number of votes.

The categories are:

Best football player

Best men’s basketball player

Best women’s basketball player

Best baseball player

Best softball player

Best gymnast

Best men’s track and field athlete

Best women’s track and field athlete

Best volleyball player

Best soccer player

Best combined men’s/women’s golfer

Best combined men’s/women’s tennis player

Best combined men’s/women’s swimming and diving

Best athlete in a defunct sport (men’s gymnastics, boxing, wrestling)

Best men’s coach

Best women’s coach

Best male athlete

Best female athlete

Most iconic LSU sports moment

Best combined men’s/women’s individual game or event performance

Best combined men’s/women’s individual season

Without revealing winners, six categories were decided by five or fewer points. The most hotly contested category was men’s track in which the top three places were separated by two points.

No winner captured all 15 first-place votes, which would have been a perfect score of 75 points. Five category winners scored 70 or more, including a 74 and a 73. The largest victory margin was 34 points in the combined men’s and women’s best golfer category.

Here’s the selection committee:

Tiger Rag president Jim Engster, Tiger Rag editor Ron Higgins, Tiger Rag assistant editor William Weathers, Advocate columnist Scott Rabalais, Lake Charles American Press columnist Scooter Hobbs, Gannett Louisiana LSU beat writer and columnist Glenn Guilbeau, former LSU beat writers Jim Kleinpeter (Times-Picayune) and Lee Feinswog (The Advocate), retired Advocate sportswriter Ted Castillo, longtime Louisiana newspaper and free-lance writer Ted Lewis, LSU basketball sports information director Kent Lowe, Bryan Lazare of TigerBait.com, veteran WGNO-TV sports director Ed Daniels and ESPN 104.5 FM Baton Rouge sports talk show hosts Jordy Culotta and Matt Moscona.

Nine of the panel members have 40 or more years of sports journalism experience and four have 30 or more.

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Ron Higgins

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