Chapters 1-2 Summary
In his review of The Art of Fielding, Gregory Cowles, writing for the New York Times, called Chad Harbach’s book a “precious and altogether excellent first novel.” The Art of Fielding, a novel about baseball and campus life with meditative insights sprinkled throughout, was published in 2011.
The Art of Fielding opens with Mike Schwartz, a sophomore at Westish College in Wisconsin, who first sees Henry Skrimshander during the semi-finals of a “no-name” summer baseball tournament. Schwartz does not pay much attention to Henry during the game except to notice, as everyone else does, that Henry is his team’s shortstop and is quick on his feet, not very good at bat, and the shortest guy on the field. But after the game, when Henry goes back out on the field in the blazing heat to field some more balls, Schwartz pays more attention to the scrawny shortstop. Then Schwartz fully appreciates the “grace” of Henry’s every move. When the kid removes his shirt, Schwartz is amazed at the boy’s skinny arms, which are not much wider than Schwartz’s thumb. However, when Henry scoops up a ball that had been batted his way, Schwartz cannot believe the ease of the young boy’s throw or the explosive speed of the ball as it makes its way back to the catcher. No matter where the ball is hit, Henry mysteriously is there to stop it. Schwartz concludes that the boy must have known where the ball was going even before it was hit.
When this after-game workout is finished, Schwartz feels disappointed. He wants to see more. He wishes he had taped the session so he could rewind it to see it again. Instead he watches the boy leave the field. Schwartz knows that he has waited all his life to see that much talent, that much genius on the field, and he knows that he cannot allow the boy to get away from him.
Now Henry is registering at Westish College. He feels, deep inside, that he should not be...
(The entire section is 597 words.)