Baseball And The Atom Bomb
“Moe Berg, who left baseball in 1939, and was eager to get involved in the war effort, was appointed to Project Larson, part of Alsos and hence connected with the OSS. Berg was sent to Italy to speak with Italian scientists and find out what he could. Then, when the Alsos mission learned that Heisenberg would be speaking in Zurich in December 1944, Berg was issued a pistol and a cyanide capsule.
Berg blended right in with the audience listening to Heisenberg’s lecture. What a relief that the talk had nothing to do with nuclear weapons or even nuclear energy, but was rather about quantum matrices and other physics topics without a clear nuclear connection. Attracting no suspicion, Berg left the talk and returned to the United States, reporting that he found no evidence of German progress.
Later in life, Berg was offered the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his heroic efforts, the highest honor the United States can award a civilian. But for unstated reasons, Berg declined the honor. He remains the only major league baseball player whose card is on display at the CIA’s headquarters.”
When it comes to the history of the world, there are few developments that were more critical than the allied development of the atomic bomb during World War II… and the failure of the Nazi regime to do so. In hindsight, it became clear that the Nazis were quite far from weaponizing nuclear fission, but with scientists like Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn on board, the danger was clear and apparent to all. Yet World War II also saw the beginnings of what would become the US Central Intelligence Agency, and one of their first field agents was Moe Berg, a former major league baseball catcher. This average-at-best baseball player spoke many languages fluently, joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and almost assassinated Heisenberg in 1944!