Gift Ngoepe, MLB’s lone African player, searches for his bat — The Undefeated


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bottom of the third inning, two outs, runners on first and second: Mpho Gift Ngoepe stepped into the batter’s box last week under unusual pressure for an early season at-bat in a minor league ballpark with his team leading 4-0.

This was Ngoepe’s first game since the Toronto Blue Jays sent him down, for the second time this season, to the AAA Buffalo Bisons. He had gone 1-for-18 in the bigs, with 12 strikeouts. In the minors this year, he was 4-for-25, with another dozen whiffs. Ngoepe needed a hit like LeBron James needs hair. Especially since Ngoepe had led off this inning with a weak fly ball to right field, before his teammates started smacking pitches around the stadium.

“Wow, I’m the first out, I might be the last out,” Ngoepe thought as he dug in….

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