Former Indians player Ngoepe makes MLB debut as first African-born player to reach the majors


PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 26: Gift Ngoepe #61 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on April 26, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Veteran Indianapolis Indians infielder Gift Ngoepe made baseball history on Wednesday night.

Not only was the 27-year-old recalled to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ngoepe became the first African-born player to reach the major leagues.

Ngoepe made his first trip to the bigs count, playing second base when the Pirates inserted him into the lineup mid-game due to an injury.

Capping the history-making event, Ngoepe lined a single up the middle off Cubs star pitcher Jon Lester in his first at-bat.

He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2015, appearing in 21 games with the Tribe. Last year, he played in 102 games for Indy and was the best defensive shortstop in the International League.

Born in Pietersburg, South Africa, Ngoepe was signed by the Pirates as a non-drafted free agent on Sept. 29, 2008, and played in the Pirates farm system for eight seasons.

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