Moe Berg opened his trunk and began to pack. In went a number of dark-gray suits, high quality and identical. In went matching white dress shirts and several identical black ties. Black shoes followed. Dressing was easy for Berg, as he wore the same outfit every day, a ritual he would follow for more than fifty years. Once his teammates, convinced that Berg never changed his clothes, sneaked into his hotel room and peeked into his closet, only to find eight identical suits.1
Unlike most of his All American teammates who were taking their first overseas trip, Berg was a seasoned traveler. He had already visited more than a dozen countries on four continents and could speak or read at least twelve languages with varying degrees of competency. He spoke a few fluently, such as French, but understood just a smattering of Japanese, Sanskrit, Greek, and others. Although Berg had an extraordinary faculty with languages, sportswriters exaggerated his abilities, often claiming that he spoke a dozen fluently. Berg did little to correct the misconception and often paraded non-English newspapers in the clubhouse. His linguistic ability and low batting average caused a teammate to quip that Berg could speak a dozen languages but could not hit in any of them.
Berg was an odd Major Leaguer. Moe, short for Morris, was the third child of Bernard and Rose Berg, Ukrainian Jews who immigrated to New York in the 1890s. Like most immigrants, Bernard started near the bottom, slaving over an ironing board in a Lower East Side laundry. Within two years, he was running his own laundry and taking classes at the New York College of Pharmacy. In 1902 Moe was born in Harlem, where his father now worked as a pharmacist. Four years later, Bernard bought a pharmacy in Newark, and the family moved to New Jersey. Although born in a Ukrainian shtetl,