© 2012 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
01/23/12 10:37 AM EST
Reds scoreboard man to test 'Baseball IQ'
Lifelong Cincy fan one of 32 contestants on MLB Network show
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- For years, Reds scoreboard operator Rich Linville has tested -- and probably frustrated -- thousands of fans attending each home game. He's the guy behind the scenes who has tested their knowledge with the "scoreboard stumper." Now the tables are being turned, so to speak. Can the author of all those mini quizzes use his wisdom for personal triumph and charitable benefit on a quiz show, and do it on national television? Linville is one of 32 contestants on the new program "Baseball IQ," which is MLB Network's first game show. It premieres on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET and will be hosted by Matt Vasgersian. Each episode is 30 minutes of recall-based trivia featuring two contestants. A representative of each of the 30 Major League clubs, MLB.com and the National Baseball Hall of Fame are matched up in a bracket-style tournament. "I've written all the scoreboard stumpers for more than 20 years," said Linville, who has worked for the Reds since 1988. "I do all the facts and figures and stats and numbers. That's kind of my niche within the room. When this contest was announced, my supervisor -- Adam Lane -- encouraged me to take a written test that MLB passed along to all the teams to screen their best candidates. So I took the test and I scored the highest. Here I am." To understand the depth of love the 45-year-old Linville has for baseball, one only needs to know the name of his nearly seven-month-old son. It's Brett Robinson Linville -- named after George Brett and Jackie Robinson. Linville's wife suggested the name -- in part because her husband's all-time favorite player is Brett. While Brett -- the Royals great -- is his all-time favorite baseball individual, there is only room for the Reds team in Linville's heart as a fan. "I consider myself to have grown up with the Big Red Machine in some ways," Linville said. "I can't imagine a better time and place to grow up a baseball fan than Cincinnati in the 1970s. I was spoiled by what I saw. As a 10-year-old, you don't really realize how lucky you are." Two new episodes of Baseball IQ will air every Tuesday through Thursday until Feb. 23. The winner of each episode will win $5,000 for charity. The championship episode will award $25,000 for the winner's charity and $15,000 to the runner-up's charity. Linville is playing for the Reds Community Fund. Game questions cover all things baseball, from current players and managers to World Series champions, MVPs, Cy Young Award winners, Hall of Famers, milestones and more. Linville's first-round match is against Pirates premium seating account manager Steve Morse. Linville, who is currently taping episodes at MLB Network studios, was not permitted to reveal any outcomes -- or even where the location was while speaking via telephone for an interview. All Linville could say -- thus far -- is that the experience of going through the paces of a TV game show has been entirely positive. "It has been a blast, a real blast," Linville said. "I love baseball. That's just my thing. Everyone has been really nice and super accommodating. I've enjoyed meeting some of the other contestants as well. In some ways, they're a lot like me -- really into the history of the game. They love baseball as much as I do. Being able to talk baseball with someone that wants to talk about it as much as you do is really cool."