On April 26, the Pittsburgh Pirates played a home game against the Chicago Cubs. For Pirates rookie Gift Ngoepe this would have been a big moment regardless. After playing in various minor leagues since 2009 he had finally made it and would be playing in his first Major League Baseball (MLB) game. However, this was not just Ngoepe's first game in the big league. It also made him the first player ever born in South Africa and from the African continent to play in a MLB game.

Ngoepe's game

Ironically, enough to make room on their roster for Gift Ngope the Pittsburgh Pirates had to option relief pitcher Dovydas Neverauskas to their Triple-A team.

In their prior April 24 game against the Cubs, Neverauskas became the first player born in Lithuania to play in a MLB game. At the top of the fourth inning, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle brought Ngoepe off the bench to start at second base.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, he had his first major league hit, a single to center off Jon Lester. In the bottom of the sixth inning he got walked for the first time, while he had his first strikeout in the bottom of the eighth. Then at the top of the ninth inning he helped to turn the game-ending double play in the Pirates 6-5 win over the Cubs.

Ngoepe actually played in his second MLB game yesterday, a 12-2 Pirates win over the Miami Marlins. He turned in an amazing performance in the game.

In Ngoepe's 3 at-bats, he had three hits, two runs, one RBI, one triple and got walked twice.

His journey to the majors

Gift Ngoepe was born in Randburg, South Africa and he was around the game from an early age, since his mother was a clubhouse attendant for the Randburg Mets Baseball Club. In 2008 he got invited to the MLB academy in Tirrenia, Italy.

It was here that he was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates and he spent all of 2009 playing for the Gulf Coast League Pirates. In 2010 he spent 64 games with the Short Season-A State College Spikes and only 2 with the Advanced-A Bradenton Marauders. In 2011 he only played 27 games in an injury shortened season, 25 with the Class-A West Virginia Power and 2 with the Gulf Coast League Pirates.

In 2012 he played 124 games with Bradenton and then 16 games for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. In 2013 he played 28 games from Bradenton and was then promoted to the Double-A Altoona Curve, where he played 72 games. He also played 17 games with Scottsdale at the end of the season. In 2014 he played 131 games for Altoona and 71 games for them in 2015. He was then promoted and played 21 games in Triple-A with the Indianapolis Indians. In 2016 he played 102 games for Indianapolis and this year he played 15 with them before being called up to the majors.

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