University Archives

Lot 160

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Moe Berg, Baseball Player & Spy, Notes on Japanese History and Language

Two pages of notes by baseball player and spy, Moe Berg, written on the back of two separate issues of the Princeton University Weekly Bulletin. The first page measures 11" x 22.5" and is dated circa October 12, 1963. This larger page had detailed handwritten notes, divided into eight sections, on Japanese history and its language, likely information that he gathered from his All-Star Tour of Japan from 1934. The notes include studies of Japan, dating back to 609 AD, along with Berg's thoughts on the Japanese writing system compared to the Chinese and Korean systems. Much of his focus is on the development of characters and syllables within the language and how they've evolved over time.

The second page measures 11" x 8.25" and is dated circa March 3, 21, 1964. The page has sixteen numbered sections, with notes on baseball, including details on Warren Spahn, style of play, various pitches, and the best team. His notes appear to date from his recollections of 1947 to 1964. The item comes with a copy of a JSA Auction Letter of Authenticity, authenticated February 12, 2016.

Moe Berg had a keen interest in languages, having received a B.A., magna cum laude in modern languages at Princeton University. He studied and spoke at least seven languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit. During his travels with the 1934 All-Star Tour of Japan, Berg even gave a lecture in Japanese at Meiji University. Berg's love of languages would ultimately prove vital during his career as an operative for U.S. Intelligence services.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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