Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Moe Berg Baseball Card


Born in New York City on March 2, 1902, Morris “Moe” Berg  played 15 major league baseball seasons; playing with the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox, and the Washington Senators

But Berg never advanced beyond playing backup catcher and substitute shortstop, and he always sat on the bench more than he played.

Moe was regarded as the brainiest ballplayer of all time

He read around 10 newspapers every day

He spoke many different languages

Casey Stengel once described Berg as "the strangest man ever to play baseball"

In 1926 Berg skipped spring training with the White Sox team in order to complete his first year at Columbia Law School. He later passed the NY bar exam. 

But in 1934, five years before he retired from baseball, Berg was picked to join the traveling American All-Star baseball team on a trip to Japan.

Fellow teammates and baseball fans wondered why a player like Berg was chosen for the All-Star team with the likes of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

Moe was put on the team for one simple reason

He was a United States Government Spy

With the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, the United States was put into World War II. To do his part for the war effort, Berg accepted a position with Nelson Rockefeller's Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA) on January 5, 1942.

In late 1943, Berg was assigned to Project Larson, an OSS operation set up by OSS Chief of Special Projects John Shaheen. The stated purpose of the project was to kidnap Italian rocket and missile specialists in Italy and bring them to the U.S.

After the war, Moe Berg was awarded the Medal of Freedom, America's highest honor for a civilian in wartime.

But Berg refused to accept it because he couldn't tell people about his real life.

After his death, his sister accepted the Medal.

It now hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, Ohio.

Moe Berg's baseball card is the only card on display at the CIA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Berg died on May 29, 1972, at the age of 70, from injuries sustained in a fall at home. A nurse at the Belleville, New Jersey, hospital where he died recalled his final words as: "How did the Mets do today?" (They won.)  

By his request, his remains were cremated and spread over Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, Israel.

And now you know a little about Moe Berg, The Catcher Who Was A Spy

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