Catcher, Shortstop, Scholar, Spy: The Life of Moe Berg

April 3, 2023
by Daniel Zimmer

April is the most wonderful time of the year. Temperatures climb out of the frigid, flowers begin to bloom, and most importantly, it’s baseball season! In a sport filled with characters from Yogi Berra to Satchell Paige, AJHS is lucky to have several documents from one of baseball’s most fascinating characters, Morris “Moe” Berg.

Moe Berg’s Chicago White Sox Contract, P-924

A graduate from Princeton University who spoke multiple languages, he was an average player, at best. AJHS’s archives include a contract he signed with the Chicago White Sox in 1928 for $6,000 (equivalent to about $105,558 today), a year in which he took a leave of absence from Columbia Law School (he would pass the New York State bar exam in 1929).

After his playing career ended in 1939, Berg became a coach for two years before becoming a spy for the U.S. government, joining the Office of Strategic Services from 1943-1946. The AJHS archives have a collection of Berg’s O.S.S. papers from 1945-46.

Moe Berg OSS Orders, P-924

Even after his spying days had ended, and long since he last swung a bat, Berg maintained an interest in baseball. The archives contain a scorecard of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series, handwritten by Berg.

Moe Berg Scorecard of Don Larsen’s perfect game, P-924

Berg’s life is an intersection of many Jewish American lives. Some become scholars, others became athletes, and others still served their country. Moe Berg did it all.