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Can of Corn: Baseball Fielding Terminology

If you have ever watched a baseball game on TV, you may have heard the broadcaster talk about a can of corn.  While many baseball enthusiasts already know what this phrase means, I’m here to help you out if you don’t.

A can of corn is when a defender makes an easy catch on a high pop fly that doesn’t take much effort.  They usually either don’t move at all or have to take very few steps to get camped under the ball to make a play.  A can of corn is usually referring to balls hit in the outfield, but an infield pop fly can also be called a can of corn.

A hitter will almost always give away that he just hit a ball that will be a can of corn.  They don’t hustle out of the box since they know it is 99.9% likely to be an out.  They drop their head, fling their bat or break it, and yell as loud as they can.  It’s a way to let everyone know they messed up and didn’t get the job done.

Do you wonder why they call it a can of corn?  The story that I have heard has to do with a grocery store.  When store clerks would stock the shelves, the canned vegetables were placed alphabetically.  This meant that vegetables were stocked A to Z from top to bottom, and corn was placed on the top shelf.  Then, when someone wanted a can of corn, the clerk would knock the can off the top shelf and would catch it easily in his hands or in a basket.  Thus, an easy basket catch became known as a can of corn, although basket catches are highly frowned upon in baseball.

Can of corn

Can of corn at its finest

When a batter hits a ball that turns into a can of corn, it’s a good thing and a bad thing.  It’s a good thing for the pitcher because the hitter is out, but it’s a bad thing because he probably just missed it and wants that pitch again.  Now you can sound like a baseball know-it-all the next time you’re at a game or watching on television.

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