Gift Ngoepe, the first African player to perform at the Major League Baseball (MLB) level, made the Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day roster.
“He can handle the glove. You can put him at any sport. He’s a great defensive fielder” said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
So far Ngoepe has appeared in 28 MLB games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Big Leaguer, who spent 2 months in his home country South Africa during the off season, spoke to Associated Press about his commitment for the development of baseball in Africa: “Just trying to make the sport a little bigger, make more people interested and playing so we have a bigger population for baseball”.
Ngoepe responded to a number of media requests and did many interviews. He also accepted to be involved in youth development programs. In particular, he made a huge effort in the areas of the country where youngsters tend to be trapped in street gangs.
“We tried to change their mindset and be like… you know what, this is not the right way and sport is where it’s going to make life better for you.”
The 28 year old infielder is convinced that seeing him play at the MLB level will boost attention for baseball in the whole Continent.
“There will be more kids that want to play baseball.