Brian Kingrey isn’t really a fan of baseball video games, nor is he particularly fond of baseball in general.
But money? He’s a big fan of that — and now possesses a hefty chunk of it. The Lousiana man raked in $1 million by being the first player to throw a perfect game in 2K Sports’ baseball sim, MLB 2K11.
“I’m not really into sports games, but I am into competitive games, so when I heard about this competition, I couldn’t leave it alone,” says Kingrey, who is a music teacher in Hammond, LA. “Two weeks before the competition started, my wife forced me to go get the game. She was like ‘I don’t know why you’re not doing this.’”
That was mid-March, just a few weeks before 2K’s contest kicked off on April 1. In that time, Kingrey did his homework. He studied batting averages during his lunch hour, and once he got home, he’d spend a good five hours playing, learning its nuances and the best strategies to pull off the rare feat of a perfect game.
Eventually, he worked out a formula inspired by the game’s own box art. He selected Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay, the game’s cover athlete (who happened to pitch a real-life perfect game just shy of a year ago), as his pitcher of choice, and he chose to play against the Houston Astros.
“Roy Halladay has the most control on his pitch in the game,” says Kingrey. “And he has this really mean slider that’s amazing against right-handers. The Astros only have two lefties in their lineup. I’d throw it low and to the right and then they would swing and miss.”
It didn’t take long to find out if his plan would work. When the contest officially began, he threw a perfect game within two hours after just three tries.
Kingrey will meet Halladay this week as part of the award festivities — a potentially fortuitous encounter, as he and his wife have recently been recruited to play in a community softball league. Kingrey, ironically, was tapped to pitch.
Once he gets the million-dollar check, Kingrey says he and his wife plan to pay off their house, cars and student loans as well as other miscellaneous debts. Then the spending spree hits a high note: They’re planning to buy a refrigerator.
Yup. Forget lavish trips or some other mad use of the money. The Kingreys got married last October and they’re currently using a mini-fridge in their kitchen, the same kind you’ll find in pretty much any dorm room in the country.
“You take a Coke out, you put one right back in,” says Brian.
While Kingrey was the first to pitch a perfect game when the contest started, he wasn’t the first to leave the bases empty in MLB 2K11 this year.
Michael Manna, also known as professional wrestler Stevie Richards, claims those honors, and he did it using the same two teams. The contest hadn’t started yet, though, something Manna says he’s fine with and he lays no claim to the money.
“It’s just a fun thing,” he said at the time. “I want it to be a positive thing. But I am gonna brag that ‘Hey man, I did this really cool thing.’ They say ‘geek cred’ but it’s a real thing in the tech community.”
Once the hoopla surrounding his perfect pitch winds down, Kingrey may pick up MLB 2K11 again, but you’re more likely to find him playing his main game, the online strategy game League of Legends, along with anything that keeps his competitive juices flowing.
“Usually if there’s a scoreboard, you’ll see my name on it,” he says.