While some readers may get the erroneous impression that someone is referring to a grocery list, the origin of the term “can of corn” is actually used in the national pastime of baseball.
Famed Chicago Club announcer Harry Caray often used the phrase in his always animated broadcast of the games from the North Side of the Windy City for the often-hapless Cubbies during his era. His grandson, Chip Caray, sometimes is heard repeating the expression over the Atlanta Braves network.
It is rumored that the nineteenth century use of the term began from an old grocer’s method of getting canned goods down from an upper shelf. The use of a long stick with a hook on the end would allow the merchant to harmlessly drop the can into his apron for an easy catch.
The dual reference to the best-selling vegetable in a grocery store and to the outfield in baseball being called a “cornfield” was also a common utterance when the game in its earlier days may have been a farm field.
Legendary radio callers Red Barber, Bob Prince, Phil Rizzuto, Ken Harrelson and Buck Martinez are just a few who have converted a grocery term into a use in baseball.
Barber is often credited with turning the grocery phrase into baseball.
For an extensive glossary of baseball terms, Wikipedia contains most of the slang terms used to describe the events performed on and off the diamond.
Any young gal (or guy) wanting to impress their inquisitive spouse or significant other with their terminology might start with the above source!
(Excerpts from “The Little Book of Answers” – Author – Doug Lennox – (2003) – MJF Books – New York, NY 1001.)