When a memo calling for representatives to test their baseball knowledge on a new game show was sent out to every major league team, it didn’t take long for the Nationals to choose their guy.
They needed someone with drive, someone who would compete, and of course, some knowledge on the game of baseball couldn’t hurt. Enter Samuel Mondry-Cohen.
Mondry-Cohen, the Nationals’ baseball operations analyst, was chosen to represent the organization on MLB Network’s new game show, “Baseball IQ.” The competition, which airs beginning Tuesday, January 24 at 9 p.m., pits 32 contestants - one from each of the 30 teams, one from MLB.com and one from the National Baseball Hall of Fame - in a bracket-style competition, where everything from statistic calculations to baseball history will be measured, with the winner earning $25,000 for their respective charity.
“The memo was actually sent to a couple of people with the team,” Mondry-Cohen said of his nomination. “Harolyn Cardozo, Mike Rizzo’s special assistant, actually first thought of me when she saw the details and asked me if I wanted to participate. I said sure.”
What a calm, collected response for someone about to be face-to-face with 31 other bright minds who not only love the game of baseball but are ensconced in it on a daily basis. No worries, however. For Mondry-Cohen, despite being one of the youngest participants selected, his background in baseball certainly couldn’t be taken lightly.
Mondry-Cohen’s baseball career actually began 3,000 miles away, where he served as a bat boy in the visitor’s clubhouse for the San Francisco Giants. He was just a teenager then, but for four years - 2003-2007 - Mondry-Cohen spent his high school days and part of college meeting players and learning the game. Following that, Mondry-Cohen joined the Nationals’ front office as an intern during the summer of 2009, before being brought on full-time at the end of the 2010 season. Now he’ll put his baseball smarts to the test.
“I think I’m known as a big baseball fan,” Mondry-Cohen said. “In addition to working (in baseball) I’ve always loved the sport and particularly the history of the game, so that’s something I thought gave me confidence.”
Even with the confidence, Mondry-Cohen admitted the task would not be easy. Not only was he up against some top competition, he had no idea what kinds of questions would be asked. With baseball stretching back more than a century, any number of teams, players or records could be put into play. Some preparation would surely be needed.
“I was prepping over the holidays, trying to be as well-rounded as possible,” he said. “There was just so much that could be on it, so much material to cover.”
Of course, in the age of television, the contest itself has already been filmed and Mondry-Cohen’s first-round fate has already been sealed. The Nationals’ representative didn’t share how well he did, of course, but all will soon be revealed under the prime-time spotlight.
Should he win, however, $25,000 will be donated to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. The organization, Mondry-Cohen said, works intimately with the community in D.C., particularly working with kids in the area. One of the foundation’s cornerstone projects is the Nationals Baseball Academy, which provides children with baseball instruction and academic assistance after school. More information on the Dream Foundation can be found here.
For the official rules of the tournament, they’re best presented here. And be sure to watch “Baseball IQ” on MLB Network, premiering Tuesday at 9 p.m., to see how Mondry-Cohen’s baseball wits matched up against the other clubs.
“I felt proud to be chosen,” Mondry-Cohen said. “I’m happy (the Nationals) had confidence in me to represent the organization and to win. These are competitive people. They wanted me to win, so it was quite an honor.”