The Catcher Spy
Morris "Moe" Berg (1902-1972) was a professional baseball player. He began his career with the Brooklyn Robins in 1923, and ended his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1939 after playing five seasons as a catcher. Berg graduated from Princeton in 1923, and received a law degree from Columbia University in 1930. He spoke about 12 languages. Berg was considered sharp, intelligent, cultured, and even charming.
The legend of Moe Berg begins in 1934 when the American all star team visited Japan. The team included the famous players Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig. Eighteen games were played in Japan. It is believed that Berg took photographs at the time that were later used to help identify military targets in World War II.
During the war, Berg joined the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. On the Pacific front, Berg broadcasted in Japanese to Japan. In Europe, he served as a counter-intelligence officer. It is believed he attempted to uncover German secrets about their atomic bomb program. After World War II, Berg's life was cloaked in mystery, and it appears he left the spy service.
Moe Berg played 15 seasons in the majors. 1929 was his best year on offense, when he batted .287. Berg can be considered the most intelligent person to ever play in the major leagues. Interestingly, it is sixty years after World War II, and Japan is our greatest ally in Asia. The Japanese went 0-18 in 1934, but today produce great baseball players including trailblazers Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.