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The Can of Corn that Almost Gave Us our First Win


After the rather bizarre play last night in the ninth when a routine "can of corn" pop fly was allowed to drop between the leftfielder and centerfielder, I wondered aloud, "why in the world is that called a can of corn?"

My buddy Silas who was with me at the game -- and writes under the name sinickal at this blog -- assured me that it had something to do with a grocer catching a can of corn that fell of an upper shelf in an old timey general store. Never one to be called to task on what he believes is fact, he dug up this explanation of can of corn from a Seattle newspaper:

A couple of possible sources of the phrase are cited in the definitive "New Dickson Baseball Dictionary." The most accepted: The phrase, first used in 1896, makes reference to a long-ago practice where a grocer would use a stick to tip a can of vegetables off a high shelf, then catch it in his hands or outstretched apron.

Damn, that means he was right. I consulted the all-knowing Wikipedia and found this answer:

An easily-caught fly ball. Supposedly comes from a general store clerk reaching up and dropping a can from a high shelf. Frequently used by Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson. Also, a phrase used in the expression of mild excitement, general agreement or indication from one person to another that completion of said task is in order. Mike Zolk, from Frankford High School in Philadelphia, coined the phrase in 1936 in a game against NorthEast High. revived the term when referring to one of their designers (Can of Corn Cavanagh) during the infamous 2005 company kickball game.

That last sentence, I believe, is one of those times where the hall monitors of Wikipedia failed to catch some sort of personal reference being thrown into what are supposed to be accurate reference materials. I kind of feel good every time I see something like this on the Wiki, though in a way it’s kind of like graffiti on a building.

At any rate, I’m more inclined to believe the first explanation about the grocer shelf. And believe it or not I feel much better now that I know what a "can of corn" is.