The March release of 2K Sports’ Major League Baseball 2K11 came with the fanfare of the publisher’s second annual competition to throw an in-game perfect game for a $1 million cash prize. This time around, 2K tweaked the parameters of the contest in an effort to give more gamers a chance, pushing back the start date past baseball’s Opening Day and lowering the minimum age to 13. With an extra three weeks’ worth of practice, it certainly seemed possible that a less experienced player would have a shot.
As a novice to both baseball and baseball videogames -- he had never played a baseball game before -- Kingrey knew that he was going to have to do his homework. Two weeks before the competition began, he traded in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for MLB 2K11 and “started practicing like crazy,” about four to five hours a day. In addition, he went to MLB.com in order to gain a basic understanding of the rules of baseball. (Some of the intricacies escaped him: in a game of MLB 2K11, I watched him bunt a ball foul with two strikes -- he didn’t know he would be called out.)
Like last year’s winner, Wade McGilberry, Kingrey achieved perfection on the first day of the competition; it only took him three tries in two hours. As it turned out, he was playing his current favorite game, League of Legends, when 2K Sports called with the news; he actually kept playing while on the phone because he didn’t want to lose his rating in the game. But 2K didn’t initially let on that he had won outright; they flew him to California under the pretense of being one of a few potential winners, and then revealed the truth once he got there.
Once again, 2K flew the winner to New York City and put him and his wife up in a Manhattan hotel for a few days. In addition to meeting his million-dollar ticket, Roy Halladay himself, Kingrey took on a few journalists in MLB 2K11 to see if they could get a hit off of him. Last year, I was the only person who managed to break up McGilberry’s perfect game; I won a Mets jersey autographed by shortstop Jose Reyes for that feat. This time, Kingrey got two quick outs before giving up a walk and a single to me; when another contestant scored a double, I figured I was done.
To top it all off, the Phillies-Mets game that we all watched was a good one. The teams were tied 3-3 going into the 9th inning, where Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez allowed three runs, to my delight. The Mets mounted a rally in the bottom of the frame, closing the gap to 6-4 before Daniel Murphy grounded into a game-ending double play with runners at the corners.