US baseball gets first player from Africa

It was history in the making when Gift Ngoepe became the first player from South Africa – and Africa – to play in the Major League Baseball in the US.

Gift Ngoepe
Gift Ngoepe is the first player from South Africa, and Africa, to play in the American Major League Baseball, on 26 April 2017. His team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, beat the Chicago Cubs. (Image: Pittsburg Pirates, Facebook)

Compiled by Priya Pitamber

South African Gift Ngoepe was overcome with emotion when he became the first player from Africa to make an appearance in a Major League Baseball game in the US, on 26 April 2017.

“I told myself not to cry, because I’m in the big leagues and I’m a big guy,” Ngoepe told ESPN. “[Francisco] Cervelli hugged me, and I could feel my heartbeat through my chest. It was emotional, and I had to fight back the tears.”

Italo-Venezuelan Cervelli is a catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ngoepe said he thought about where he came from and his journey from South Africa to pursue his dream of playing in the American major league.

“I thought about the struggles of being in the minor leagues for eight-and-a-half years and then to finally get up here and get a hit in my first at-bat. The whole thing was just awesome. That’s the only word I can think of to describe it. It was awesome.”

The South African player helped his team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, beat the Chicago Cubs.

Watch:

Opening doors

Ngoepe said baseball was still developing in Africa, but he hoped his involvement would inspire more interest in people.

“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, according to Eyewitness News.

Source: ESPN, EWN

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