Gift Ngoepe becomes first African to play in US MLB league

Gift Ngoepe, who became the first African player to appear in a Major League Baseball game on Wednesday, marked the occasion by getting a single in his first at-hat for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ngoepe, from Polokwane, entered the game playing second base in the fourth inning of the Pirates 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs. John Bell’s home run in the sixth inning provided the winning score.

The 27-year-old Ngoepe was recalled by Pittsburgh from their minor league affiliate Indianapolis earlier in the day.

In addition to his hit up the middle of the field in the fourth inning, he walked in the sixth and struck out in the eighth.

Ngoepe was signed at age 18 as a non-drafted free agent in September 2008. In 15 games this season with Indianapolis, he is batting .241 with four runs batted in.

Ngoepe was rated by Baseball America as the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the Pirates minor league system each of the last five seasons (2013-2017).

He led all International League shortstops in fielding percentage (.984) while playing with Indianapolis last year.

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