The High Five: Don’t Believe All You Read

Don’t believe everything you read…

One of those “Did You Know..Trivia…Fun Facts” circulating on the Internet gives a former Alabama running back, known only as “Five-Yard” Fogerty, and his Crimson Tide teammates credit for inventing the high five.

As the story goes, Fogerty carried the ball 25 times and gained exactly five yards on each carry as ‘Bama beat Washington State, 24-0, to win the 1931 Rose Bowl, finish 10-0 and share the national championship with Notre Dame. The title was the third for Alabama coach and College Football Hall of Famer Wallace Wade in six seasons.

Fogerty and his teammates supposedly celebrated his Rose Bowl exploits by slapping palms — or exchanging high fives. According to the report, “Five-Yard” Fogerty later played professional football before injuring his leg in a skiing accident.

As it turns it, there’s no record of a Fogerty ever playing in the NFL, according to the Pro Football Reference. Nor is there any record of Fogerty playing for Alabama in the 1930 or 1931 seasons.

In fact, the only prominent Fogerty found in a Google search is John Fogerty, of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

So it turns out there’s no record of “Five-Yard” Fogerty. And the mystery of the birth of the high-five continues.

Now, A True Story
Contrastingly, some things that sound unbelievable are actually real.

Take the story of Joe Lamas, the late football and baseball coach and athletic director at Iona Prep, my high school in New Rochelle, NY. Mr. Lamas, as we knew him, claimed to have played in the NFL in the 40s.

There was no online football reference in those days….heck there was no online anything in the 60s….so we had our doubts about Mr. Lamas’ claim. Sometimes we  joked that he played for the 1940 Washington Redskins team that lost the NFL championship game, 73-0, to the Chicago Bears. That didn’t go over very well with Mr. Lamas, especially in gym class.

It turns out Joe Lamas born in Havana, Cuba, graduate of Mount St. Mary’s College, was a 5’10″, 210-pound guard who played eight games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1942.

And Lamas even scored a touchdown on Nov. 8, 1942, when he returned a fumble 29 yards for the final score in the Steelers 35-7 victory over the winless Detroit Lions.

Lamas entered military service following the 1942 season where he fought for his country during World War II.

Eventually, he joined the staff at Iona in 1952, where he taught Latin, history and health in addition to his duties in the athletic department.

Joe Lamas retired from Iona in 1979, and passed away in 1996.

And unlike “Five-Yard” Fogerty myth, the tale of Joe Lamas is a true story.

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5 Comments on “The High Five: Don’t Believe All You Read”

  1. Jim says:

    Do you know the month and day Joe Lamas died? It only said 1996.

    • sportslifer says:

      Mr. Lamas, a longtime Great Neck, N.Y., resident, died April 22, 1996, after a long
      illness, at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 80.

  2. Carol McCrite says:

    I checked it out…you are right..there was NO Fogarty playing for AL in l931 and all stats show no one by that name ever ran five yards at a time. Cute myth but JUST that. I do high five the outstanding career of Wade Wallace, however.

  3. Bob DiBuono says:

    I played under Joe Lamas from 1960 to 1964…I was a co captain for two years under Lamas..
    Sad to say, as I look back on those years, Lamas was not the ideal coach to play under..there
    are many stories about the method he used to coach and in this day and age, he would have
    been relieved of his coaching duties..he had so much talent on that team in those years and I
    can honestly say that he alone destroyed the motivation of so many good players

    Bob DiBuono


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