Mpho Ngoepe, affectionately known as Gift, made history earlier this year when he became the first black South African to compete in the USA’s Major League Baseball (MLB) competition.

The 27-year-old’s love for baseball started at a young age, as he spent his early days at the Randburg Mets, where his mother worked as a cleaner.

Ngoepe participated in the early MLB Africa Camps in Italy, where his raw talent was quickly identified, and he was subsequently snapped up by the Pittsburgh Pirates nine years ago.

The former Rand Park High School scholar also tasted international baseball when he represented South Africa at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. After grinding it out in the minor leagues for several seasons, his breakthrough into the major leagues finally came on 23 April 2017, when he faced his first pitch against the Chicago Cubs.

It was a moment he described as a “dream come true… but it also means so much to the people of South Africa and baseball in Africa.”

Ngoepe, who’s younger brother, Victor, is also part of the Pittsburgh Pirates, may have only just begun his MLB career, but already he is proving himself a “gift” to the sport, as much as his family and nation.

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