Losing Cans of Corn
Sep 22, 2011You might hear about peanuts and Cracker Jack, but odds are you won't hear talk of cans of corn at your next baseball game. The term "can of corn," meaning a simple catch made by a fielder, is one of many baseball terms being eliminated from the mouths of commentators.
In his research titled, "Losing More than Cans of Corn: Baseball Jargon and the American Spirit," Michael Eikmeier '12, St. Cloud, Minn., explored how the specialized language of baseball has been replaced with simpler words.
"Language is one of the most important aspects of culture, if not the most," he says. "It defines who we are as a community."
Eikmeier presented a lecture on the subject Sept. 20. Being a die-hard baseball fan and an English writing major made his research a "perfect match."
"Eikmeier has been able to combine class material on the functions of jargon with his lifelong passion for baseball," says Dr. David Sprunger, English, who sponsored Eikmeier's research.
Simpler language, while making baseball more accessible to the casual fan, endangers a vital link between the players and the fans, Eikmeier says. Baseball jargon connects because it is the language the players themselves speak.
"Once all the jargon is gone," he says, "there will be very little connection there, and we will be left with a very bland and boring language surrounding the sport."