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Lot # 1128 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Moe Berg Signature Display

Starting Bid - $200.00 , Sold For - $1,292.50

This framed display piece commemorates the career of Moe Berg, one of the most interesting figures in the history of baseball. Berg was a journeyman Major League catcher who played a total of fifteen seasons between the years 1923 and 1939, but it is not his baseball career that has intrigued present-day historians. Unbeknownst to all at the time, Berg was also working as a spy for the U.S. Government and was later recruited by the OSS, the forerunner to today's CIA. Although many of Berg's clandestine activities during his playing career remain a mystery, one thing is known for certain: he was not your typical ballplayer. Berg held degrees from Princeton, Columbia Law School, and the Sorbonne, and it was said that he could speak twelve different languages. When one of his teammates later learned of his linguistic talents, he promptly commented, "Moe Berg can speak twelve different languages, but he can't hit in any of them." After his playing career, Berg traveled throughout Europe gathering information on Germany's nuclear capabilities. Perhaps the most famous story regarding Berg's covert occupation occurred in 1944, when he was sent to attend a lecture by Germany's top physicist, Werner Heisenberg. While other attendees carried notebooks, Berg, posing as a Swiss student, was armed with a pistol and a cyanide caplet. If Berg believed that Heisenberg's lecture revealed German progress towards building an atomic bomb, he was authorized to assassinate him and take the cyanide if caught.

This display piece pays homage to both his baseball and government career. Mounted upon the left side of the display are an original George Burke photo (4 x 6 inches) of Berg (as a member of the Red Sox) and a small autograph album page (4.5 x 2.5 inches) featuring both his blue-ink signature (grading "9") and a newspaper photo of him. The right side of the display presents Berg's official military travel orders (8 x 10.5 inches), dated December 29, 1945, authorizing him to travel from Paris, France, to Frankfort and Nuremberg, Germany. Attached to the base of the travel order is Berg's Cabin Identification Tag (4.25 x 2 inches), issued by the U.S. Army Air Forces Air Transport Command, bearing his name written in pencil upon it. Berg traveled to Germany to serve as an official observer at the Nuremberg Trials. The travel orders are slightly toned and display a number of minor border tears and chips, while the cabin tag displays a number of creases. Both are in Very Good condition. (Note: Both the military travel orders and Cabin Identification Tag originated long ago directly from the estate of Moe Berg.) The photo is in Very Good to Excellent condition, with a few tiny creases, and the autograph album page is in Excellent to Mint condition. Total dimensions: 20 x 16.5 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $200. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $1,292.50

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