Anatomy of a Movie #5: The Catcher Was a Spy


I first encountered the improbable life of Moe Berg in the early 1980s, after reading Kaufman, Fitzgerald and Sewell's 1975 book "Moe Berg: Athlete, Scholar, Spy." As for an "international man of mystery," Berg would put Austin Powers to shame. 

Moe Berg was a mediocre catcher with the Boston Red Sox and other teams in the 1920s and '30s. Casey Stengel once said Berg was "the strangest man ever to play baseball," which meant he was smart and well traveled. The truth is, Berg was mysterious and never revealed much of himself to anyone. Sure, folks knew he was a first-rate scholar with multiple university degrees who spoke seven languages. They certainly did not know, however, that Berg was spy - and an occasionally blundering one, at that.

Director Ben Lewin released "The Catcher Was a Spy" this year to, well, nothing, The movie got very little attention, despite what should be an engaging albeit surface blend of espionage, travel…

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