Folk Metaphor – United States

Folk metaphor- United States

“Can of Corn”

This is a popular metaphor used in baseball. When a player makes an easy catch, it is known as a “can of corn.” Alex said has known this saying since he was very young, as he played and watched baseball in his youth and it is a popular saying. He grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois, a small western suburb of Chicago, but the metaphor is used throughout the country.

Alex thinks he knows the origins of the metaphor. He learned the origin of this metaphor while playing a computer video game. He doesn’t remember the name of the game but thinks it could have been Triple Play 2001. During the game, the commentators explained that “can of corn” originates from the very early days of baseball (baseball was invented in the mid 1800s). In the grocery stores back in those days, they used to keep the can of corns high on the shelves, and whenever they needed one, they would use broomsticks to knock it down and catch the can as it came falling down. It was easy catching the can of corn and thus, an easy catch in baseball was called a “can of corn.”

I’m not sure how the phrase “can of corn” became a baseball metaphor, but it is easy to see why people call an easy catch a “can of corn.” The process of catching an easy fly ball in baseball is very similar to catching a can of corn falling from the top shelves of a grocery store. Back in the mid to late 1800s, baseball was much more of an intimate sport between the community and the players (the community was part of the team, rather than the team being part of the community, which is what commercialization has done to the game today), and many players held side jobs because baseball players didn’t get paid a lot of money. It is possible that a baseball player worked at a grocery store and caught actual cans of corn, and then related this to catching easy fly balls.