First African-born MLB player gets hit in debut

Neverauskas was sent back to Triple-A to make room on the 25-man roster Ngoepe, who was already on the 40-man roster.

On Wednesday night, something happened in the Major League Baseball that had never occurred in the long history of the sport.

In the bottom half of the fourth Ngoepe hit a single up the middle off Cubs left-hander Jon Lester. Neverauskas became the first Lithuania-born-and-raised player to pitch in the majors when he appeared Monday in a loss to the Cubs.

"I can not describe the feeling right now", Ngoepe said Wednesday in the Pirates" clubhouse shortly after his call-up was formally announced.

Ngoepe started playing seriously at the age of 12 and had access to the game because his mother worked at the Randburg Mets baseball club.

Gift Ngoepe is the first South African born player to wear an MLB jersey on the field, and sports a fielding percentage of.833 from the hot corner for his minor league career.

He could be a utility infielder with his experience at seconds and third base.

"I'm sure a lot of people have told him over the years that he would never make the major leagues: professional scouts, people in uniform, people out of uniform".

Manager Clint Hurdle put the magnitude of Ngoepe's presence into perspective. He is considered the Pirates' best defensive prospect.

This is his ninth year playing baseball in the United States and he started at the lowest level, in a rookie league, before making his way up to the MLB. Ngoepe has played shortstop for the vast majority of his time in baseball, establishing himself with a.979 fielding percentage from short with 142 double plays turned. "Dovydos is from Europe. I'm from Africa. Baseball is not a popular sport (on either continent), but if you work hard enough and dream a little bit, anything is possible".

  • Julie Sanders