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(South Africa) Gift Ngoepe becomes first African-born player in American Baseball Leauge

Africans Are Supreme Athletes!


Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Gift Ngoepe became the first African-born player to appear in a Major League Baseball game on Wednesday and marked his debut by getting a hit in his first at-bat.

The 27-year-old South African, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis earlier in the day, entered the game against the visiting Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning.

When Ngoepe took to the field to play second base, Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli and third baseman Josh Harrison each took turns holding their hands up to his chest as if to monitor the rookie’s heartbeat.

Ngoepe, who plays as an infielder, was born in Pietersburg, South Africa. He came into the MiLB in October 2008; and, in 2009, he was part of South Africa national baseball team at the World Baseball Classic.

It was in 2008 during Major League Baseball’s annual three-week European Academy where Ngoepe was first spotted. MLB holds this academy every year for promising players and with help from the Randburg Mets, Ngoepe was scouted and offered a contract.

In the bottom half of the fourth Ngoepe hit a single up the middle off Cubs left-hander Jon Lester. His first trip to the bases was short-lived, however, as two batters later Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer hit into an inning-ending double play.

Ngoepe finished the game 1-for-2 with a single, walk and strikeout and the Pirates prevailed 6-5.

“It’s a dream come true for me because it’s been my dream since I was a 10-year-old boy, but it also means so much to the people of South Africa and baseball in Africa,” Ngoepe said before the game.

“Baseball is still very much in the development stages (in Africa), and hopefully this gets more people interested.”

He was in the news this week for being the first African-born player to join baseball’s major league. But he was also the first black South African to sign a professional baseball contract back in 2008.

In an article published by Sports Illustrated when Ngoepe first emerged on the scene, writer Gary Smith noted: He played cricket in the clubhouse, using the dustbin for a wicket, when the clubhouse manager wasn’t looking. He was also pretty damn good at cricket and was his school’s player of the year in Grade 7.

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