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'Art of Fielding' is high art

As 2011 draws to a close, “Moneyball’’ is within $1 million or so of surpassing “The Rookie’’ as the biggest domestic box office hit about male baseball players, not adjusted for inflation. (“A League of Their Own’’ is No. 1 overall on the baseball flicks list.)

But even what surely is the greatest film ever made about on-base percentage was not indisputably the finest moment for the sport on the cultural landscape this year.

“The Art of Fielding,’’ a first novel by Chad Harbach, debuted to wide critical praise and made many lists of the year’s best books, sports or otherwise.

I feel guilty about not having read it, but like many fans I struggle with sports fiction. I am more of a Baseball Encyclopedia guy. But don’t let that stop you.

Ron Darling told me he liked it a lot, if that helps.

New York Sports