Morris "Moe" Berg
(March 2, 1902 – May 29, 1972) was an American catcher
in Major League Baseball
who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services
during World War II
. Although he played 15 seasons in the major leagues, almost entirely for four American League
teams, Berg was never more than an average player, usually used as a backup catcher, and was better known for being "the brainiest guy in baseball" than for anything he accomplished in the game. Casey Stengel
once described Berg as "the strangest man ever to play baseball".
A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, Berg spoke several languages and regularly read 10 newspapers a day. His reputation was fueled by his successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please! in which he answered questions about the derivation of words and names from Greek and Latin, historical events in Europe and the Far East, and ongoing international conferences.
As a spy working for the government of the United States, Berg traveled to Yugoslavia to gather intelligence on resistance groups the U.S. government was considering supporting. He was then sent on a mission to Italy, where he interviewed various physicists concerning the German nuclear program. After the war, Berg was occasionally employed by the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, but, by the mid-1950s, was unemployed. He spent the last two decades of his life without work, living with various siblings.