The Roy Hobbs Tournament—Again:)

If it’s November, I play in this annual national tournament (in my age-group!).  We did very well this year, getting to the semi-finals on the last day.  At the end of the regulation game it was 5-5, but we lost in extras.

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Each year we have many ex-professional players on the fields.  This year two former major leaguers figured in our games.  Randy Hundley (former Catcher for the Chicago Cubs) kept us chuckling.  He was managing the team that beat us on the last day.  Randy was the 3B coach and kept up a steady stream of orders, instructions and hand signals as if he was still in the big leagues.  Finally, very frustrated, he barked “why aren’t you guys listening to me?”

Bill “Spaceman” Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox.  He appeared in the middle of one of our games and got a base-hit for the other team.  Soon after that play was stopped abruptly by the field manager of the complex we were playing in, who ordered Lee to get off the field!  Lee refused and the tournament director was called on the phone.  It took all the umpires and various managers 30 minutes to get Lee to depart.  He apparently had not registered nor paid the entry fee.

Playing in this event is always entertaining:)

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Moe Berg—the Inside Story

Subject: A Fascinating Bit of History

When baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went on tour in baseball-crazy Japan in 1934, some fans wondered why a third-string catcher named Moe Berg was included. Although he played with 5 major league teams from 1923 to 1939, he was a very mediocre ball player. He was regarded as the brainiest ballplayer of all time. In fact Casey Stengel once said: “That is the strangest man ever to play baseball.” When all the baseball stars went to Japan, Moe Berg went with them and many people wondered why he went with “the team.

The answer was simple: Moe Berg was a Unites States spy working undercover with the CIA.

Moe spoke 15 languages – including Japanese – Moe Berg had two loves: baseball and spying.

In Tokyo, garbed in a kimono, Berg took flowers to the daughter of an American diplomat being treated in St. Luke’s Hospital – the tallest building in the Japanese capital.

He never delivered the flowers. The ball-player ascended to the hospital roof and filmed key features: the harbor, military installations, railway yards, etc.

Eight years later, General Jimmy Doolittle studied Berg’s films in planning his spectacular raid on Tokyo..

Berg’s father, Bernard Berg, a pharmacist in Newark, New Jersey, taught his son Hebrew and Yiddish. Moe, against his wishes, began playing baseball on the street aged four.

His father disapproved and never once watched his son play. In Barringer High School, Moe learned Latin, Greek and French. Moe read at least 10 newspapers every day.

He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton – having added Spanish, Italian, German and Sanskrit to his linguistic quiver.

During further studies at the Sorbonne, in Paris, and Columbia Law School, he picked up Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian – 15 languages in all, plus some regional dialects.

While playing baseball for Princeton University, Moe Berg would describe plays in Latin or Sanskrit.

During World War II, he was parachuted into Yugoslavia to assess the value to the war effort of the two groups of partisans there. He reported back that Marshall Tito’s forces were widely supported by the people and Winston Churchill ordered all-out support for the Yugoslav underground fighter, rather than Mihajlovic’s Serbians.

The parachute jump at age 41 undoubtedly was a challenge. But there was more to come in that same year.

Berg penetrated German-held Norway, met with members of the underground and located a secret heavy water plant – part of the Nazis’ effort to build an atomic bomb.

His information guided the Royal Air Force in a bombing raid to destroy the plant.

There still remained the question of how far had the Nazis progressed in the race to build the first Atomic bomb. If the Nazis were successful, they would win the war. Berg (under the code name “Remus”) was sent to Switzerland to hear leading German physicist Werner Heisenberg, a Nobel Laureate, lecture and determine if the Nazis were close to building an A-bomb. Moe managed to slip past the SS guards at the auditorium, posing as a Swiss graduate student. The spy carried in his pocket a pistol and a cyanide pill.

If the German indicated the Nazis were close to building a weapon, Berg was to shoot him – and then swallow the cyanide pill.

Moe, sitting in the front row, determined that the Germans were nowhere near their goal, so he complimented Heisenberg on his speech and walked him back to his hotel.

Moe Berg’s report was distributed to Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and key figures in the team developing the Atomic Bomb. Roosevelt responded: “Give my regards to the catcher.”

Most of Germany’s leading physicists had been Jewish and had fled the Nazis mainly to Britain and the United States . After the war, Moe Berg was awarded the Medal of Freedom. America’s highest honor for a civilian in wartime. But Berg refused to accept, as he couldn’t tell people about his exploits.

After his death, his sister accepted the Medal and it hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown ,

March 2,1902—–May 29, 1972

Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest award to be awarded to civilians during wartime)

Moe Berg’s baseball card is the only card on display at the CIA Headquarters in Washington DC

The Nationals: What a Joke!

A noxious odor is emanating from Nats Park!

The Bud Black charade has morphed into Dusty Baker!  Maybe the proximity to Baltimore (and Peter Angelos) or our joke of a football team in DC (owned by Danny Boy Snyder), have rubbed off on the Lerners.

We all know Baker ruins pitchers.  Why did they even interview Dusty twice?  What about all the excellent people they didn’t even interview?  Dave Martinez, the Cubs Bench Coach, comes to mind.  Ron Roenicke, formerly the Brewers Mgr. is another.  Donny Ballgame is a third (he was nuts to sign with Miami).

Ever since the wacko hiring of “Choker” Papelbon, the Nats have been in a downward spiral.  They are working hard to just be an after-thought in 2016.  You saw it here:)  One poster on the MASN site says the Nats have become the laughingstock of MLB.  Right on!