DATELINE: Cold Spy
Being of a certain generation, we have been asked about some of the accuracy of the movie The Catcher was a Spy.
Paul Rudd plays Moe Berg, an enigmatic athlete who finished his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1939. Pushing 40, he was pushed out of the locker room to make room for more rookies. And, the Sox had a few.
In the film, one rookie looks in the locker room with suspicion at Berg and notes his reservation about sharing a shower stall with a man with unclear sexual tendencies. Another veteran player (Lefty Grove?) tells him to keep it to himself.
Yet, this player seems to stalk Berg and follow him to some clandestine gay bar of 1939 in Boston. When he comes out (and we do not see what happens in this odd locale), he knows he is being followed—and confronts the young rookie.
He slugs him several times. The player is identified as the fictional Bill Dalton. No one by that name was on the Sox roster.
So, who was the offending rookie stalker?
The Red Sox had several notable rookies in that season with Berg: Ted Williams was the most famous (also known as the Garbo of the Dugout for his reclusiveness) and Bobby Doerr, one of Ted’s close friends, and Johnny Pesky, all future Hall of Famers.
Was it one of them who had a confrontation with Moe Berg?
You will be hard-pressed to find out something that was kept in the shadows by all concerned. Berg would never talk, and neither would Ted Williams. Berg reportedly offered Ted advice and insights on the greats he played with (and he told Ted he was most like Shoeless Joe Jackson of Field of Dreams).
If the incident is true, and we have no doubt about its veracity, you can now play To Tell the Truth. Alas, the real stalker will not stand up years after all have passed.
We put our money on Teddy Ballgame. The other two were amiable sorts and often thought to be mediators and peace-makers.