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DoubleX
02-08-2007, 06:02 PM
Moe Berg spent 15 years in the Majors, and was mostly a journeyman backup catcher. But I just came across something that said he was also CIA Spy. I think this is very intriguing and was wondering if anyone knows anything more about Moe Berg and his spy career?

milladrive
02-08-2007, 06:05 PM
Here's something I found...

http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=756&pid=962

BoSox Rule
02-08-2007, 06:05 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moe_Berg#Spying_for_the_U.S._Government

JamesWest
02-08-2007, 06:07 PM
During a trip of all-stars on a trip to Japan in the 30s, Berg is alledged to have filmed a view of Tokyo from the roof of his hotel. These films were supposedly used to help plan the Doolittle Raid.

There is also a story that Berg was sent to an academic conference in Switzerland, to hear a German scientist discuss how harness atomic energy as a weapon. If Berg thought the scientist was legit, he was supposed to assasinate the scientist.

Dodgerfan1
02-08-2007, 06:08 PM
I remember my father telling me about Moe Berg the spy when I was about 12 years old. There are plenty of books out there. Here are a few:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/102-6502091-4483354?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=moe+berg

digglahhh
02-08-2007, 06:10 PM
Moe Berg graduated Magna cum laude from Princeton and earned a law degree from Columbia. He also studied philosophy in Paris at the Sorborne. When he chose to play professional baseball, he left an offer to teach at Princeton on the table.

Berg took espionage photos of Tokyo during when he went to Japan as part of a tour of American All Stars (that's where he was really undercover :p ).

He posed as a Swiss business man after the war began and attempted to pry atomic secrets from the Germans.

The famous quote "He can speak ten languages and can't hit in any of them" was made by Ted Lyons about Berg.

A book was written about him, I believe the title is "The Catcher was a Spy."

Dodgerfan1
02-08-2007, 06:13 PM
Berg took espionage photos of Tokyo during when he went to Japan as part of a tour of American All Stars (that's where he was really undercover :p ).

Yes, that IS funny! Moe Berg... All-Star?? I'm surprised his cover wasn't blown the second he touched down in Japan! ;)

yanks0714
02-08-2007, 06:28 PM
Did Moe wear 007 as his number????

milladrive
02-08-2007, 06:30 PM
Did Moe wear 007 as his number????

lol :laugh

dgarza
02-08-2007, 06:35 PM
Moe Berg spent 15 years in the Majors, and was mostly a journeyman backup catcher. But I just came across something that said he was also CIA Spy. I think this is very intriguing and was wondering if anyone knows anything more about Moe Berg and his spy career?
I'm surprised you've never hear this before. I thought it was pretty well known.

Brownie31
02-08-2007, 06:57 PM
Moe Berg-scholar, spy and ball player.

Brownie31

StanTheMan
02-08-2007, 07:03 PM
The Catcher Was a Spy was written by Nicholas Dawidoff. I have not read it in a LONG time, but it reveals a LOT about what Berg was, and was not. There is some speculation about the extent of the espionage he accomplished, and I think I remember the book stating that Berg (maybe others, can't recall) may have added to his accomplishments as a spy, but at the same time he did do some things for the government.

Brownie31
02-08-2007, 07:06 PM
The Catcher Was a Spy was written by Nicholas Dawidoff. I have not read it in a LONG time, but it reveals a LOT about what Berg was, and was not. There is some speculation about the extent of the espionage he accomplished, and I think I remember the book stating that Berg (maybe others, can't recall) may have added to his accomplishments as a spy, but at the same time he did do some things for the government.

Wasn't Berg in the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA, during World War II?

Brownie31

ironman
02-08-2007, 07:13 PM
If you are ever in the D.C. area there is an exhibit on him at the Spy Museum and there used to be one at the FBI

StanTheMan
02-08-2007, 07:23 PM
http://www.ambition.com/moeberg/moe0.jpg


A pretty long piece, but interesting....



By Nick Accocella, ESPN.com

"He [Moe Berg] bluffs his way up onto the roof of the hospital, the tallest building in Tokyo at the time. And from underneath his kimono he pulls out a movie camera. He proceeds to take a series of photos panning the whole setting before him, which includes the harbor, the industrial sections of Tokyo, possibly munitions factories and things like that. Then he puts the camera back under his kimono and leaves the hospital with these films," says Nicholas Dawidoff, a Berg biographer.


Moe Berg has long enjoyed a reputation as the most shadowy player in the history of baseball. Earning more notoriety for being a frontline spy than for being a backup catcher, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction in Berg's undercover career. Just Berg being a spy begs the question: How much of the fiction might have been used as cover?

In 1934, five years before he retired as a player, Berg made his second trip to Japan as part of a traveling major league All-Star team. One might wonder what the seldom-used catcher, a .251 hitter that season, was doing playing with the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Berg, who spoke Japanese, took home movies of the Tokyo skyline that were used in the planning of General Jimmy Doolittle's 1942 bombing raids on the Japanese capital. The U.S. government wrote a letter to Berg, thanking him for the movies. Biographies, magazine articles and word of mouth have elevated this story into the stuff of legend.

The only utility player to be the subject of three biographies, few of his accomplishments came in the batter's box. It was Berg whom St. Louis Cardinals scout Mike Gonzalez was describing when he coined the phrase "good field, no hit" in the early 1920s.

In his 15 major league seasons, in which he played just 662 games, Berg was a lifetime .243 hitter. He started out as a slick-fielding utility infielder before the Chicago White Sox in 1927 moved him to catcher, where he then found his niche as a substitute backstop, filling that role until he retired in 1939.

In only one year did the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Berg appear in more than 100 games; he played in fewer than 50 games in 12 seasons. But he was a brilliant scholar, picking up degrees from Princeton and Columbia Law School and studying philosophy at the Sorbonne.

His linguistic skills inspired this observation by a teammate: "He can speak seven languages, but he can't hit in any of them."

Berg was a hit with people, though. He had a reputation for charm and erudition that brought him introductions to powerful people, such as the Rockefeller family, who ordinarily did not associate with ballplayers.

Morris Berg was born in a cold-water tenement on East 121st Street in Manhattan on March 2, 1902, to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents -- Bernard, a druggist, and Rose. The family moved across the Hudson River to Newark, N.J., in 1906.

At seven, Berg began playing baseball for a Methodist Church team under the pseudonym Runt Wolfe. He later starred at Barringer High School. From there, it was on to Princeton, where he majored in modern languages and played shortstop on the baseball team. He and a teammate, also a linguist, would communicate on the field in Latin.

After graduating magna cum laude in 1923, Berg was signed by Brooklyn, for whom he played shortstop and batted .186 in 49 games. After spending the winter at the Sorbonne in Paris, he returned to the United States and played two seasons in the minors.

A student at Columbia Law School, in 1926 he joined the White Sox, who had bought his contract from Reading of the International League. Berg became a catcher by accident the next season. In August 1927, after three Chicago receivers were injured in a matter of days, he volunteered for the job.

A deft handler of pitchers and possessor of a rifle arm, by 1929 he was the White Sox's regular catcher. He hit a career-high .288 in 106 games and received two votes in balloting for the American League's Most Valuable Player.

Unfortunately for Berg, the following year in spring training he suffered a knee injury and spent the rest of his career (with the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox after Chicago) as a bench warmer. When he called it quits at 37, he had just 441 hits in 1,812 at-bats, with only six home runs and 206 runs batted in.

After two years as a Red Sox coach, Berg left baseball on Jan. 14, 1942, the same day his father died. Bernard Berg always regarded his son's choice of a career as a waste of a fine intellect. Moe's love of the game - and of the travel and social hobnobbing it afforded him -- was a matter of contention between them to the end.

It is at this point, just after the start of the United States' entry into World War II, that Berg's life became the subject of much speculation. Nelson Rockefeller gave him a job with the Office of Inter-American Affairs that allowed him to travel through South and Central America studying the health and fitness of the population.

He parlayed that post into becoming an officer in the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, in 1943.

Berg, according to one biography, was prone to blunders: getting caught trying to infiltrate an aircraft factory during his training, dropping his gun into a fellow passenger's lap, and being recognized by wearing his O.S.S.-issue watch.

Despite these mistakes, Berg was well-regarded enough to have been chosen to carry out one of the O.S.S.' more ambitious endeavors - a plot to possibly assassinate Werner Heisenberg, the head of Nazi Germany's atom-bomb project. Berg, who spoke German fluently, was sent in December 1944 to Zurich to attend a lecture by Heisenberg. Berg's assessment of the situation was that Germany was not close to having a nuclear bomb, and there was never an attempt to kill Heisenberg.

Another story involving Berg's spying career came at the end of the war, when, while traveling through Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia with some other agents, he produced a letter with a big red star on it when asked for credentials. The Americans lacked any authorization, and supposedly what Berg showed the Soviet soldiers was a copy of the Texaco Oil Co. letterhead.

After being forced out of the spy business in the late forties, Berg didn't hold a regular job. A bachelor, he often freeloaded off friends and relatives, especially his brother Sam, who once sent Moe two eviction notices to get him out of his house. After living with Sam for 17 years, he moved in with his sister Ethel for the final eight years of his life.

To the end, however, Berg remained a dandy.

In 1960, out of financial necessity, he was prepared to break his lifelong silence about his supposed exploits and agreed to write a book. However, the project collapsed when the editor glowingly praised the prospective author's movies on the mistaken assumption that he was about to sign a contract with Moe of The Three Stooges.

Berg died at 70 on May 29, 1972 in Belleville, N.J., of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Ethel took his ashes to Israel. To this day, no one knows where his remains are buried.

In death, as in life, Moe Berg was a mystery

csh19792001
02-08-2007, 08:30 PM
During a trip of all-stars on a trip to Japan in the 30s, Berg is alledged to have filmed a view of Tokyo from the roof of his hotel. These films were supposedly used to help plan the Doolittle Raid.


It's not alledged; excerpts from the actual film were on Berg's Spotscentury Top 50 and Beyond episode. He was able to smuggle the camera in and shot film from a rooftop.

Edit: I should read more than the first post or two on threads before posting. :)

Berg is one of the most fascinating people in baseball history- and probably the most brillant man to ever play in the major leagues. If there was anyone as hyper intelligent and erudite as he was....it would be news to me.

iPod
02-08-2007, 10:36 PM
I saw the Sportscentury about him; one of my personal favorite episodes. It's been a long time since I saw it, but I seem to remember one anecdote in particular. On opening day one of the years he was with (I believe) the Senators, he was warming up with some of his teammates near the stands and someone begins to yell "Moe! Moe! Over here!" They all turn toward the fan, only to see that it is President Roosevelt waving, and of course, his teammates begin to wonder why the hell this third string catcher was on speaking terms with the President.

Just looking at baseballlibrary.com, FDR did throw out the first pitch on Opening Day, 1934 for the Senators, when Berg was still on the team. And Berg would go to Japan later that same year. So I guess it's possible it really happened.

I'd love to hear more stories about that all-star tour in Japan, on an unrelated note. I know a very, very young Eiji Sawamura threw a famous 1 hitter over 5 innings against those all-stars (but lost 1-0 on a Gehrig HR), cementing his legacy over there.

Honus Wagner Rules
02-08-2007, 10:50 PM
It's not alledged; excerpts from the actual film were on Berg's Spotscentury Top 50 and Beyond episode. He was able to smuggle the camera in and shot film from a rooftop.

Edit: I should read more than the first post or two on threads before posting. :)

Berg is one of the most fascinating people in baseball history- and probably the most brillant man to ever play in the major leagues. If there was anyone as hyper intelligent and erudite as he was....it would be news to me.
And yet he couldn't hold a job after his baseball career was over. :o Apparently, liked being a freeloader instead.

Dodgerfan1
02-09-2007, 05:38 AM
In 1960, out of financial necessity, he was prepared to break his lifelong silence about his supposed exploits and agreed to write a book. However, the project collapsed when the editor glowingly praised the prospective author's movies on the mistaken assumption that he was about to sign a contract with Moe of The Three Stooges.

BWAAAHAHAHA!!! :laugh

hellborn
02-09-2007, 09:57 AM
"The Catcher Was A Spy" is a great read, and Berg is a fascinating character. The movies that Moe took in Japan were supposedly of little use in planning the bombing raids...however, he did take them covertly, sneaking onto a hospital roof under the pretext of visiting a patient at a time when foreigners were not permitted to carry movie cameras. He was in the OSS and worked extensively in Europe and Latin America, and did contribute to the intelligence being collected on the Nazi A-bomb work. Berg attended a lecture by Heisenberg in Switzerland and was supposed to kill him if there was any evidence that he was contributing to an A-bomb effort...Moe correctly surmised that he was not, and even made an attempt to cozy up to Heisenberg that was summarily rejected. Berg got in some hot water over his use of funds during his time in the OSS that too some string pulling to get out of. The importance of Moe's work here was probably not too great in the end, since the Nazi A-bomb effort was more or less stalled by the time that he arrived on the scene.
Berg lived a peripatetic existence after the war, mostly staying with friends and acquaintances throughout North America, but also staying with his brother and sister in NJ for extended periods. Davidoff suggests that the stories that Berg loved to tell about his exploits were highly exaggerated, but there was always a seed of truth...Berg did do many remarkable things, but would compulsively blow them out into almost superhuman exploits to impress the people he was entertaining or mooching from.
I felt somewhat sorry for Berg at the end of the book, but he did live life on his terms and have some truly amazing experiences. Didn't seem like any of it made him really happy, though. The whole thing about speaking so many languages was hard to nail down...Davidoff suggests that Berg could learn enough of a language to sound impressive to someone who didn't know better, and did have some impressive abilities in Latin, Japanese, and some others, but was not really fluent in 7 or 14 or 21 languages.

Brownie31
02-09-2007, 10:07 AM
Another famous member of the OSS was Julia Childs. So many of its members were from Ivy League and other elite universities, that there was a joke around Washington, DC that OSS meant "Oh So Special"!;)

Brownie31

Dalkowski110
02-09-2007, 12:05 PM
The name of the German physicist Berg was instructed to shoot was Werner Heisenberg, head of the German Atomic Bomb program. However, by the time Moe got to Heisenberg, the German Heavy Water facilities in Norway had been blown up; the ferry carrying the heavy water was sunk by the Norwegian resistence. Without heavy water, the Germans couldn't make an A-Bomb. The OSS actually knew all that when they sent Berg on the mission...they simply wanted to double-check. In fact, IIRC, Berg didn't even have the magazine inserted into his Colt M1908 .32 Auto pistol.