A “can of corn” is an easy-to-catch flyball, usually hit high and into the outfield.
A typical synonym for “can of corn” is “routine flyball.”
‘Can of Corn’ Origin
The most common explanation for how “can of corn” came to represent an easy flyball in baseball dates back to the end of the 19th century.
In those days — and deep into the 20th century — grocers would often stack cans of vegetables in pyramid displays in prominent locations in their stores.
Because taking cans from the base of the pyramid would have toppled the whole thing, the storekeepers sold their canned produce from the top down.
In order to retrieve the topmost can, at the apex, the grocer would use a long stick to pull the can down, and then catch it in his apron as it fell.
Since he knew the can was coming and could prepare for it, and since he practiced the move, catching a can of corn was easy peasy for the grocer.
Why corn and not some other veggie like peas or green beans?
Possibly because corn was the most popular vegetable and the easiest to sell.
‘Can of Corn’ in Popular Culture
As it turns out, “can of corn” has been used in other settings beyond the baseball field.
For instance, a long, high punt or kick in American football that gives the return man plenty of time to get settled underneath before it falls is sometimes called a “can of corn.”
This particular use of the turn of phrase made for a memorable and humorous moment in the 2005 remake of The Longest Yard, starring Adam Sandler.
In one scene, Big Tony draws return duties and camps under a long kick, reassuring himself and his teammates as the ball comes his way that it’s just a “Can of corn! Can of corn, and I’ll be fine!”.
Check out our rundown of other fun baseball terms right here.
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