Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg
The only Major League ballplayer whose baseball card is on display at the headquarters of the CIA, Moe Berg has the singular distinction of having both a 15-year career as a catcher for such teams as the New York Robins and the Chicago White Sox and that of a spy for the OSS during World War II. Here, Dawidoff provides "a careful and sympathetic biography" (Chicago Sun-Times) of this enigmatic man. Photos.
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The stories about Moe Berg - his behavior, his intelligence, his charm - are legion, as are the unanswered questions posed by his life. A baseball player and a spy, he was one of the most colorful men to pursue either line of work. He played in the major leagues from 1923 through 1939 and then became a coach for the Boston Red Sox. It was not, however, as a player that Berg earned his highest accolades, but as a dugout savant (it was said that Berg, educated at Princeton, the Sorbonne, and Columbia, could speak a dozen languages but couldn't hit in any of them). A month after Pearl Harbor, the day after his father - who had never approved of Berg's choice of career - died, Berg announced his departure from baseball and entered the world of diplomacy and espionage. But only now has the extent of his work for the OSS in determining Germany's atomic bomb capability been revealed. The Catcher Was a Spy provides one of the few thoroughly documented accounts of a real spy's life. Equally compelling is Nicholas Dawidoff's account of Berg after the war. A secretive man who had a reputation for appearing and disappearing without warning, Berg has long been the subject of wonder and speculation. Behind the enigma of Moe Berg was a life of fantastic and fascinating complexity - a life that has never been pieced together so seamlessly and to such riveting effect as it is now in what David Remnick calls "a stunning biography.