Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story, a saga of one person who has refused to bow to adversity and struggled seemingly endlessly to force his head above the parapet.
This is the story of Gift Ngoepe, the first African to make it into American baseball’s Major League – a gulf from his childhood as the son of a clubhouse attendant at a baseball field in Randburg, who fell in love with the game and set himself a seemingly impossible target to make it in the US.
After nine years of unrelenting toil in the minor leagues the call finally came from the fabled Pittsburgh Pirates: “They want the African.”
To a man, his teammates rose to cheer the popular 27-year-old, born in Polokwane.
He had refused to give up when many others would have walked away in frustration and graduated to the majors at last.
His first start for the Pirates was another minor triumph when he safely made first base in his initial “at bat”.
Again, there was jubilation in the dugout as his new teammates rose as one and gave him a standing ovation. Ngoepe provides a lesson to all of us.
He has made it and rekindled the gift of hope in every South African.