Study Guide

The Art of Fielding What's Up With the Title?

By Chad Harbach

What's Up With the Title?

The Art of The Art of Fielding

Henry's religion is baseball, and his bible is a book called—wait for it—The Art of Fielding, written by star shortstop Aparicio Rodriguez. Given all the Moby Dick allusions in this book, you could say that Aparicio (a fictional name that reminds us a lot of "apparition") is Henry's white whale. Henry is inspired by Aparicio, but the pressure of being the next Aparicio, of surpassing his idol's achievement (no errors in the most consecutive games), is one of the biggest pressures that cracks Henry.

Early in The Art of Fielding, Henry spends a lot of time reading Aparicio's The Art of Fielding, a book with a couple hundred numbered thoughts, parsed out like Zen koans. Henry doesn't quite understand them early on, and since he seems to forget about the book after his streak ends, we're not sure if he ever understands them. Not only does Aparicio, Henry's hero, witness the end of Henry's streak, he doesn't even stick around to meet Henry. He's last seen being told by a scout, "Forget the Skrimshander kid" (54.1). That's cold, bro. Maybe Aparicio isn't a good role model after all.

Ultimately, The Art of Fielding by Aparicio Rodriguez is a lot like The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, in that they both transcend baseball. Aparicio's Art is a little more esoteric, though, with lines like, "There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Thought. Return to thoughtless being" (2.62). This seems to be the clearest vision of Aparicio's philosophy, but does Henry return to "thoughtless being" in the end? And if so, is this a good thing?

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