Teacher won $1M with MLB2K11 perfect game
Louisiana native spent two weeks googling baseball to prepare
The year in baseball is winding toward its thrilling close, and when all is said and written about 2011, one of the most amazing stories will have been about a music teacher.
He knew nothing about the game, unless you consider this: "I knew a home run was a point."
Brian Kingrey of Hammond, La., bought a copy of the MLB2K11 video game from 2K Sports when it came out last spring, and he played it like a music madman around the clock. His mission was to learn about baseball and to be the first to throw a perfect game and win $1 million.
"I have never, ever, ever heard him say the word 'baseball' before," one of his students said.
"He's just a music teacher," said another. "Mr. Kingrey."
Kingrey had two weeks to learn and practice playing. He used Google to do research and learn all about baseball and statistics. Through his research, he discovered that his best chance of winning would be with Phillies ace Roy Halladay, who had thrown a real perfect game a year earlier.
Ironically, Kingrey used Halladay to beat the Astros, the Major League Baseball team closest to him geographically. He became a Phillies fan as a result.
"I had to actually learn the game if I was going to play," Kingrey said. "I started learning about batters, batting averages, different kinds of pitches. I'd research, play for five hours, eat, sleep and then repeat for 2 weeks."
Sorry, Astros fans, but Kingrey said he chose Houston as the opponent "because of their tendency to chase sliders. Plus, they have so many right-handed hitters in their lineup." He said that through his Google research he also knew that Halladay had "a mean slider" that works well against righties.
On April 1, Kingrey played three games and the third one was the charm, in the form of a giant check presentation that included a one followed by six zeroes. This for a music teacher who did not know anything about baseball except that a homer was up to four points.
"The first game was . . . instant loss," he said. "The second game got to the sixth inning, but Bill Hall hit it out of the park. If somebody's going to hit the ball it's going to be him.
"The third game I was like, 'OK, you just got to focus.' In the eighth inning, Bill Hall comes up to the plate. I had to figure out where Hall's weak spot was. I actually saw a blog talking about how he swung too much at low pitches. You had to have it on the perfect spot, or he hits it."
Hall missed it.
"Once I got past Bill Hall, I knew I had it," Kingrey said.
Halladay, in the running for another National League Cy Young Award along with Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Phillies teammate Cliff Lee, was the cover boy for MLB2K11. He said that even he was impressed by how Kingrey picked up the subtleties of pitching and how he won big.
"It's not easy," Halladay said. "I think it would take me more than five hours a day for two weeks to come anywhere close to that."
Shortly after winning the $1 million, Kingrey stopped by the MLB Fan Cave and played a game against Ryan Wagner, one of the two Cavemen this season. Kingrey's plan was for him and his wife to buy a refrigerator, then "pay the mortgage on the house and eliminate any debt."