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The Story Behind Baseball’s Beloved Phrase: Can of Corn

The Meaning of “Can of Corn” in Baseball

Baseball is riddled with unique lingo and phrases that are specific to the sport. One such phrase that is commonly used by baseball enthusiasts is “can of corn.” The term is often used to describe a straightforward fly ball that is an easy catch for a fielder.

In this article, we will explore the history and origin of this famous phrase, the influential people who popularized it, and its long-standing relationship with the sport itself.

Definition and Catching Attitude

A “can of corn” is a colloquial term in baseball that refers to a high fly ball that is hit directly at a fielder. This usually happens in the outfield, but the term may also refer to a ball hit towards the infield.

In either case, it is a relatively easy catch that should be made without much difficulty. Catchers and outfielders are the primary players responsible for catching “can of corn” balls.

The term “can of corn” stems from the grocers and food sellers in the early 20th century. Grocers would put cans of corn on high shelves, and when customers wanted them, they would knock them off the shelf with a stick, and the cans would fall easily into their hands.

This easy task of catching falling objects soon entered the baseball vernacular as “can of corn” and was used to describe an easy catch.

Origin and History

The origins of the phrase “can of corn” are unclear. Some attribute its creation to the famous baseball announcer Bob Prince, who used the phrase frequently during his broadcasts in the 1950s and 1960s.

Others believe the phrase dates back to the early 1900s when grocers would call down the cans of corn for their customers. However, it wasn’t until Buck Martinez, a former Major League Baseball catcher, began using the phrase frequently during his broadcasts in the late 80s and early 90s that it became more widely recognized.

Ken Harrelson, a former player and broadcaster, also helped popularize the phrase during his coverage of baseball games.

Influential People Who Popularized the Phrase

Buck Martinez and Ken Harrelson are among the most influential people responsible for popularizing the phrase “can of corn.” Buck Martinez played for three teams during his career and was an accomplished catcher. However, it was his work as a television analyst and color commentator that brought him into the spotlight and helped expand the phrase beyond the baseball diamond.

Ken Harrelson, on the other hand, was a colorful player and broadcaster who added a unique flavor to his commentary. His love for the game and unique catchphrases, including “can of corn,” resonated with viewers and made him a beloved figure in the baseball world.

Relationship with the Outfield Term

The phrase “can of corn” has a long-standing relationship with outfield play. Outfielders are typically the ones who catch “can of corn” balls, and they often have a relatively easy time doing so.

However, outfielders have a challenging task to play. They must navigate the vast expanses of the outfield, be agile enough to cover a lot of ground, and have the skill to make difficult catches when necessary.

An outfielder that regularly catches “can of corn” balls is generally considered to be an excellent fielder. The outfield also has a strong connection to cornfields, which is where the phrase “can of corn” originated.

Many baseball fields in rural areas are surrounded by cornfields, and a fly ball hit into the corn can be difficult to track. This association with rural life and the iconic imagery of cornfields is one of the reasons why the phrase “can of corn” has endured as one of baseball’s most beloved phrases.

What it Takes to Field a Can of Corn

The “can of corn” is an easy catch that, by definition, should not be missed. However, there are some factors that may make it more difficult to field the ball successfully.

Occurrence and Opportunity

One of the key aspects of fielding a “can of corn” is the opportunity that it presents. A “can of corn” occurs when the ball is hit in a way that allows the fielder to get under it easily.

A successful catch is dependent on having the opportunity to do so. A fielder has no control over when a “can of corn” will be hit, so they must be ready to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself.

Easy Fly-Ball and Luck

Another critical factor in successfully fielding a “can of corn” is the ball’s trajectory. Ideally, the ball should be a relatively easy fly ball that doesn’t require much effort to catch.

However, there is an element of luck involved in catching a “can of corn.” The ball’s trajectory and the wind can cause the ball to move in unpredictable ways, making it more challenging to field.

Challenging Balls and Shortstop

Not all fly balls are created equal, and not all “can of corn” balls are easy to field. Sometimes, a ball is hit in a way that makes it more challenging to catch.

For example, a ball may be hit just over the fence, threatening to be a home run, or the sun may be shining directly in the fielder’s eyes, making it difficult to track the ball. In these instances, the shortstop may be called upon to make the catch.

Connection to the Outfield

While the outfield is the location most commonly associated with “can of corn” balls, these types of catches can happen anywhere on the field. An infielder that catches a “can of corn” may be in the process of making a relay throw or backing up another player.

Regardless of where the catch is made, the concept of an easy catch remains the same.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the phrase “can of corn” is an integral part of baseball’s lexicon that has endured for over a century. Its history as a phrase used by grocers and food sellers has given way to a phrase used to describe an easy catch in the game.

Buck Martinez and Ken Harrelson are among the most influential people responsible for popularizing the phrase, and it has a long-standing association with the outfield and cornfields. Fielding a “can of corn” requires opportunity, an easy fly ball, and sometimes, a little bit of luck.

While it may seem like a straightforward catch, it remains an essential part of the game and is a testament to the unique phrases and lingo that are specific to baseball. The term “can of corn” is undoubtedly one of the most significant phrases in baseball culture.

It not only has a straightforward meaning on the field but also carries cultural significance within the sport and beyond. In this article, we will delve deeper into the importance of the term “can of corn” in baseball slang and its wider cultural significance.

Significance in Tracing Cultural Significance of Baseball and its Slang

The origins of “can of corn” and its rise to popularity are a window into baseball’s development as a cultural phenomenon. Sports historians and scholars study the language of baseball to trace its cultural significance.

The game has a rich history, and the evolution of its language provides insight into its growth and changes over time. Baseball has a rich vocabulary that encompasses both technical and slang terms.

Baseball slang has taken on a life of its own, and the term “can of corn” is an excellent example of how words and phrases can evolve and take on new meanings. The slang is unique to the sport and offers a glimpse into baseball’s culture.

Variety of Theories on Origins

The origins of “can of corn” are not entirely clear, and there are several theories about its creation. While it’s difficult to pinpoint precisely how the phrase originated, the most plausible theory is that it comes from grocers and food sellers.

Grocers used to store cans of corn on high shelves in their stores. When a customer wanted a can of corn, they would use a stick to knock it down, and the can would fall easily into their hands.

This simple task of catching the falling can gave birth to the phrase “can of corn.” However, there are other theories out there that link the phrase to the countryside and cornfields.

Relevance of the Term

The connection between grocers and food and baseball’s development as a cultural phenomenon is significant. Baseball has roots in rural America, and the influence of farming and agriculture in the sport has always been apparent.

From the cornfields surrounding the baseball parks to ballparks named after cereal brands and farm equipment manufacturers, baseball and food have a long-standing relationship. The term “can of corn” is not only relevant to baseball but also to food.

It is a reminder of the simple things in life and how something as simple as a can of corn can bring joy to the table. This connection between food and baseball is essential to the game’s cultural significance and its place in American society.

Furthermore, “can of corn” has become a part of the broader American vernacular. It is often used outside of the baseball context to describe something that is easy or straightforward.

This shows how baseball slang has permeated American culture and has become an essential part of the American experience.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the term “can of corn” is an essential part of baseball slang and carries a broader cultural significance. The origins of the phrase are not entirely clear, but the connection to grocers and food is undeniable.

Baseball slang and the language of the game offer a glimpse into its cultural significance and evolution over time. Additionally, the connection between food and baseball is a reminder of the simple things in life and how they bring us joy.

The phrase “can of corn” has become a part of the broader American vernacular, highlighting the importance of baseball culture and its place in American society. In conclusion, the term “can of corn” has significant importance in baseball culture.

Its origins are associated with grocers and food, which has influenced the game’s development and cultural significance. The term has evolved over time and has found its place in the broader American vernacular.

Baseball slang offers a glimpse into the game’s evolution over time and its impact on American society. A final thought to consider is that the connection between food and baseball is a reminder of the simple things in life and how they can bring us joy.

FAQs:

Q: What is the meaning of “can of corn” in baseball? A: “Can of corn” refers to a high fly ball that is hit directly at a fielder, usually an outfielder, that is an easy catch.

Q: What is the origin of the term “can of corn” in baseball? A: The origin of the phrase is unclear, but it is most likely associated with grocers and food sellers who used to store cans of corn on high shelves, and when a customer wanted it, they would knock it off the shelf, and the can would fall easily into their hands.

Q: Why is the term “can of corn” important in baseball culture? A: The term not only has a straightforward meaning on the field but also carries cultural significance within the sport and beyond, providing insight into baseball’s growth and cultural changes over time.

Q: What is the relevance of the term “can of corn” beyond baseball? A: The phrase has found its place in the broader American vernacular, highlighting the importance of baseball culture and its place in American society.

Q: How has baseball slang influenced the game’s culture? A: Baseball slang offers a unique insight into the game’s evolution over time and its impact on American society, emphasizing its development as a cultural phenomenon.

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