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No more calls.  The response to the “Can of Corn” riddle has been underwhelming.  I’ll give the straight and short answer.

When used in a baseball sense a ” Can of Corn” refers to a pop up that goes straight up and straight down making the catch an easy one for the fielder.

Where does it come from?  How did the phrase originate?  Here’s what I think I know and I think I’m on base ( heh, heh, ahem) with the answer.

In my youth and in the days before there was supermarket every few miles the public was served by a host of Mom and Pop corner grocery stores.  We had one in our neighborhood known as ” Harry’s Deli.”

When I was a kid I would often be sent on a mission armed with a note from my Mom and a few bucks to buy whatever was needed.  I would trudge the two blocks to Harry’s, hand him the note and return home with whatever my Mother had specified in the note.

In those days with these small stores the shelves sometimes went clear up to the ceiling meaning a normal person couldn’t reach the top shelf without a ladder or a device that I don’t think really has a name.

It’s similar to one of those hand held litter picker up devices except the grocery store variety was about six feet long.  If you wanted a top shelf item you took the device and opened the grabber at the top by squeezing the handles at the bottom.  Seems ingenious – no?  But as with all great minds and inventions a slight shift occurred over time.

One could also get an item, say a can of corn, from the top shelf by just flicking the top of the grabber at the can gently knocking it off the shelf where it would fall straight down like an up and down pop up or like a Can of Corn.  It’s trajectory was  true.  But it had to be a one handed catch as your other hand was still holding the grabber.

In a future issue we’ll examine the phrase ” Sittin’ in the Catbird Seat.”

In the meantime, as the 2014 Major League regular season winds down I think it’s always fun to examine the wonderful language of the National Pastime because as you know ” Words is My Business.”  Especially Baseball.


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