SpyCast 10.25.22
Ep 561 | 10.25.22

“Baseball & Espionage” –with World Series Champion Ryan Zimmerman & Marc Polymeropoulos (Part 1 of 2)

Show Notes


Ryan Zimmerman (MLB Stats; Wikipedia) and Marc Polymeropoulos (Twitter; LinkedIn) join Andrew to discuss intelligence and America’s pastime. From the SpyCast Field of Dreams.

What You’ll Learn


  • Sign-stealing and codebreaking
  • Glue guys and teamwork
  • Ethics in baseball and espionage
  • Clutch and pinch hitters in espionage and baseball


  • Daring to fail
  • Stepping up to the plate of life

And much, much more…

Episode Notes

Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack. Few things in the world compare to sitting back, putting your feet up, and cracking open a cold one while watching the World Series. 

For the 2021 World Series Marc joined us for a fantastic discussion on the links between baseball and espionage. How do we top that? A baseball fanatic ex-CIA officer? 

Why, how about getting a first-round draft pick, World Series Champion with over 6500 at-bats? Done! Enter Ryan Zimmerman, Mr. National! 

Ever wondered about signs-stealing, how to run a baseball counterintelligence operation, or what some of the many, many links are between baseball and espionage? You’ve come to the right place for a discussion that goes to the bottom of the ninth inning over a two-episode conversation.

Ryan played for the Nationals from 2005, when he was a first-round draft pick, through to 2021, when his #11 jersey was retired. He is an ex- All-Star, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove winner, and 2019 World Series Champion. 

Marc is a highly decorated former CIA operations officer who specialized in counterterrorism, the Middle East, and South Asia. Prior to his retirement, he served at CIA headquarters in charge of clandestine operations in Europe and Eurasia. He is the author of the 2021 book, “Clarity in Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the CIA.”


“Big Data” is upending many fields, not least baseball and espionage. Gaining a competitive edge is central to both activities, the big argument is about how much “soul” is lost along the way. The Houston Astros have been a lighting-rod team, whose “smart and modern” or “cold and cynical” approach has been discussed at Penn's Wharton School of Business and in the pages of the Harvard Business Review

Quotes of the Week

"I think “Dare to Fail” is enormous. I would want you to put me up at the bases load in the bottom of the ninth. I'll take it every single time. Even if I feel like I have zero chance, I want to be there." - Ryan Zimmerman

"You know, you have to have that mentality in these professions." - Marc Polymeropoulos


*Andrew’s Recommendation*

  • Moneyball, M. Lewis (W.W. Norton, 2004)
  • Love it or hate it, this is the first port of call for any reckoning of baseball and analytics. 


*Beginner Resources*


  • Spies, Lies and Algorithms, A. Zegart (PUP, 2022)
  • The Catcher Was a Spy: Moe Berg, N. Dawidoff (Pantheon, 1994)



Primary Sources

*Wildcard Resource*

  • Get “Analytics Certification” from the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) - which is where the term “sabermetrics” comes from!