Can of Corn Baseball – Is It Really the Easiest Fly Ball in the Game?
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Can of Corn Baseball – Is It Really the Easiest Fly Ball in the Game?

“Can of Corn Baseball – Is It Really the Easiest Fly Ball in the Game?”


Baseball lovers, fans, and baseball enthusiasts alike have probably heard the term “can of corn” being used to describe an easy fly ball. But what exactly does it mean? Is catching a can of corn really the easiest fly ball in the game? In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the origins of the term, discuss the factors that make a fly ball easy, debunk the myth, delve into controversies and criticisms, and provide training and practice tips for outfielders to excel in catching fly balls.

Understanding the Terminology

Before we explore the concept of a can of corn in baseball, let’s talk about what a fly ball is. In baseball, a fly ball is a batted ball that reaches the outfield. When a batter hits the ball with an upward trajectory, causing it to become airborne, it’s considered a fly ball. The main objective for outfielders is to catch these fly balls before they hit the ground.

There are different types of fly balls, such as line drives, pop-ups, and fly balls hit deep into the outfield. Each requires specific skills and positioning from the outfielder. Regardless of the type, catching fly balls is crucial for a strong defensive game.

Origins of the Term “Can of Corn”

The term “can of corn” has an interesting historical background. There are multiple theories and folklore stories surrounding its origin, but the most widely accepted one dates back to the early 20th century. In those days, grocery stores had shelves stacked with canned goods, including corn. When a store clerk wanted to retrieve a can of corn from the top shelf, they would use a long stick with a hook on the end to knock it down easily. This action resembled the way an outfielder easily catches an easy fly ball, leading to the term “can of corn.”

Over time, the term became associated specifically with fly balls that are easy to catch, thanks to their predictable trajectory and lack of difficulty for outfielders.

Factors That Make a Fly Ball Easy

So, what exactly makes a fly ball an easy catch, or a can of corn? There are a few factors at play:

1. Simple trajectory and consistent speed: A can of corn typically has a straightforward path, making it easier for the outfielder to track and position themselves accordingly. Additionally, the speed of the ball is usually consistent, allowing the outfielder to time their jump or catch more accurately.

2. Underhand spin and predictable movement: When a batter makes clean contact with the ball, it often results in an underhand spin. This spin creates a more predictable movement for the outfielder, making it easier for them to anticipate where the ball will land.

3. Lack of difficulty due to positioning or distance from the fielder: Sometimes, the positioning of the outfielder or the distance between the ball and the fielder can make the catch relatively effortless. When a fly ball is hit directly towards an outfielder, perfectly aligning with their positioning, it becomes a can of corn.

Debunking the “Can of Corn” Myth

Although the term “can of corn” suggests an easy catch, there are instances where catching a fly ball is anything but easy. Outfielders face numerous challenges, such as fast-moving fly balls, unpredictable winds, and difficult terrain.

Let’s take a look at some examples of catches that prove a can of corn isn’t always easy:

1. Toppling over the outfield wall: Outfielders often need to make exceptional plays by jumping or even falling over the outfield wall to catch a deep fly ball. These spectacular catches require both athleticism and bravery.

2. Diving catches: Sometimes, fly balls are hit in a way that forces outfielders to dive or lay out to make a catch. These diving catches require split-second decision-making and precise timing to rob the batter of a hit.

3. Sun or stadium lights affecting visibility: Day games with a bright sun or night games with powerful stadium lights can create challenging visibility conditions for outfielders. It’s not uncommon for them to lose sight of the ball momentarily or have to battle the glare to make a successful catch.

It’s crucial to acknowledge the skill, effort, and athleticism required to catch any fly ball, even those labeled as can of corn.

Controversies and Criticisms

As with any topic in baseball, there are varying opinions on the accuracy and relevance of the term “can of corn.” Some players, coaches, and analysts argue that the term simplifies and undermines the difficulty of catching fly balls. They believe that every fly ball presents a unique challenge, regardless of its trajectory or speed.

Alternative expressions are sometimes used to describe easy fly balls, such as “routine fly,” “sac fly,” or “garden-variety pop-up.” These expressions aim to emphasize that even seemingly easy fly balls require focus and skill from outfielders.

The debate among baseball enthusiasts regarding the term’s relevance continues, with no clear consensus reached.

Training and Practice for Fly Ball Excellence

For outfielders looking to improve their fly ball-catching skills, proper training and practice are vital. Here are a few tips and drills to enhance your abilities:

1. Footwork and positioning: Focus on your footwork, ensuring you position yourself correctly to track and catch the fly balls. Practice taking efficient routes to the ball, minimizing wasted steps.

2. Communication with teammates: Effective communication with other outfielders and infielders is essential to avoid colliding with teammates and improve overall fielding efficiency. Use verbal and non-verbal cues to establish who has priority on catching the ball.

3. Tracking drills: Use drills that help develop your tracking ability, such as having a coach hit fly balls from different angles and distances. Practice adjusting your positioning, speed, and timing based on the flight of the ball.

4. Reaction drills: Work on improving your reaction time by incorporating drills that require quick movements, such as reacting to a coach’s or teammate’s command to run and catch a fly ball.


In conclusion, while the term “can of corn” may be casually tossed around to describe an easy fly ball, it’s important to recognize that catching any fly ball takes skill and effort. Outfielders face various challenges and obstacles in their pursuit of catching fly balls successfully.

So, baseball lovers, fans, and baseball enthusiasts, the next time you witness what appears to be a simple fly ball, remember the talent and dedication it takes for an outfielder to make the catch. Let’s appreciate the skills and efforts of these players who make the game of baseball even more enjoyable to watch.

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