Moe Berg is not a typical baseball player. He’s Jewish, which is very unusual for the major leagues in the 1930s and has a law degree, speaks several languages, and loves traveling the world. He also happens to be a spy for the U.S. government. When World War II begins, Moe trades his baseball career for a life of danger and secrecy. Using his unusual range of skills, he sneaks into enemy territory to gather crucial information that could help defeat the Nazis. But he also has plenty of secrets of his own. . .
What People Are Saying
Baseball player–Moe Berg–who went by the name of Runt Wolfe–“didn’t just steal bases. He stole enemy secrets.” Jones describes Berg’s childhood in New Jersey, where his love for baseball was matched by his love of learning. Berg played for the Dodgers and White Sox, where he stood out for his Jewish background and his intelligence. In Cherrington’s polished cartoons, Berg is a rather nondescript character with dark curly hair; wide, searching wyes; and a forceful expression. Beginning in 1943, his desire to defeat the Nazis led Berg to work with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, gathering intelligence in Europe. Readers won’t learn about Berg’s status on the field or his personal life; instead, Berg is presented as a principled and enigmatic figure, “a man with many secrets.” Ages 5-9.
“Moe Berg was a decent defensive catcher who struggled at the plate in the 1920s and ’30’s–it’s his post-baseball career that fascinates. He was intellectually gifted and was one of only a few Jewish students at Princeton, where Jews were prohibited from joining social clubs. However, they were happy to have him on their baseball team. Upon graduation, he began his 15-year major league career. At a time when major league baseball players were white, Christian, and, with few exceptions, poorly educated, Berg was Jewish, a college graduate, a speaker of many languages, and attending law school. In 1941, he became a spy for the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. His knowledge of languages and world cultures was an asset, as was his seeming fearlessness: as a Jewish American, he would be in particularly grave danger if caught. He parachuted into occupied Yugoslavia and made contact with resistance groups. He spied on a German physicist to determine Nazi nuclear capability. Berg always remained secretive, and there’s little information about his postwar life, but that’s the way he wanted it. Jones gives readers the sketchy details of Berg’s life and exploits in carefully selected anecdotes, employing accessible, straightforward syntax. Cherrington’s bright cartoons capture the events and subtly convey Berg’s differences from the gentiles who surround him. A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too. (afterword) (Picture book/ biography. 9-12” – Kirkus Reviews
“Moe Berg is not a typical baseball player. He’s Jewish–very unusual for the major leagues in the 1930s–has a law degree, speaks several languages and loves traveling the world. He also happens to be a spy for the U.S. government. When World War II begins, Moe trades his baseball career for a life of danger and secrecy. Using his unusual range of skills, he sneaks into enemy territory to gather crucial information that could help defeat the Nazis. But he also has plenty of secrets of his own.
Influenced by illuminated manuscripts, Karla Gudeon’s illustrations bring Ben Zion–and the rebirth of Hebrew–to life.” – Jewish Link of New Jersey
“The Spy Who Played Baseball is the story of Moe Berg, a real-life major-league baseball player of the 1930s. Carrie Jones’s picture book (KarBen, £5.69) tells the story of this quietly brilliant man, who studied at Princeton and would exchange tactical remarks with his college team mates in Latin during baseball games. Like Sarah, a talented linguist, he was enlisted as a spy in the Second World War and was sent to gather intelligence about German progress in atomic weaponry. Age seven to nine.” – The Jewish Chronicle