One of the most important names to be celebrating in Major League Baseball for the 2017 season is Gift Ngoepe, whose profile is positioning him smack bang in the middle of celebrity status!
Ngoepe Seems to Have Been Fated for Baseball
In much the same way that players who win big when they enjoy the online slots for real money in Canada have handed over the games’ outcomes to fate, at first glance Ngoepe seems to have simply been destined for baseball.
He was born in South Africa, spending his formative years at the bottom end of a different continent, but this has done absolutely nothing to stop the strapping defensive fielder from marking out his own spot within baseball’s highest echelons.
Ngoepe Fits the Bill
Seated in the dugout, with his striking features softened by the shade of his cap, he certainly looks the part.
Glaring ahead whilst posing for photographs, Ngoepe states that baseball is a serious sport, with no time for smiling players, but can’t keep his grin concealed for too long.
A Powerful Player Bearing a Big Burden
Underneath the character Ngoepe portrays, however, is a vulnerable man who has to carry a big burden thanks to his status as the very first player from Africa to have managed to enter the hallowed diamond of Major League Baseball.
Ngoepe talks of it being a tough life, mentioning that in the big leagues one is taking part in 162 games over very short periods of time, mostly six-month seasons.
He adds that one month will see you playing for one team, another month puts you somewhere else, which makes it difficult to put down roots.
The travelling between games takes its toll too, he says, as does the possibility that you could be traded at any point.
An Early Introduction to Baseball
Ngoepe was born in Limpopo, the northernmost province of South Africa, and moved up to Johannesburg, that country’s biggest city and the capital of the Gauteng province, with his mom, who worked at the Randburg Mets clubhouse, a South African baseball club.
He was introduced to baseball at only three-years old, but showed incredible progress as he developed over time, eventually representing the senior national team in 2007 before signing a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008.
Having spent close on ten years paying his dues playing for the minor leagues, Ngoepe’s persistence finally paid off this season, and his career took a massive leap forward.
He made his Major League debut at 27-years old for the Pirates, in a game against the Cubs, and, significantly, his historic first appearance coincided with the Freedom Day celebrations taking place back in South Africa.
Freedom Day commemorates celebrates the first post-apartheid elections held in 1994.
Ngoepe is carrying the hopes of a small but passionate baseball fraternity back home, but remains confident that his breakthrough will give younger players the confidence to aim as high as he did, and make their own way too.