BRISTOL, TN- Victor Ngoepe is in the midst of his third year of professional baseball.
Ngoepe, an infielder for the Bristol Pirates, was born into baseball…literally. Victor’s mother raised their family in the clubhouse of the Randburg Mets, a baseball team in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“We stayed at the fields,” said Victor. “My mother worked as the kitchen lady at the fields, so they gave her a place to stay.”
10 years ago, there were no black South African’s playing professional baseball. But that all changed when his brother, Gift Ngoepe, became the first black South African to sign a pro contract.
“Just knowing that he was the first guy to do it opens the doors, not just for my family, but for everybody else in Africa as a whole to be exposed to the game,” said Victor.
“If I can open doors for him and other people along the way from Africa and they can also chase their dreams, that’d be awesome,” said Gift Ngoepe.
Gift began his career in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and Victor followed in his footstep, joining the organization in 2016. Though if he had listened to his brother, he may have been on a different path.
“I’m like, go play soccer,” said Gift. “And he was like, no, I’m going to play baseball. He got the contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates and he signed. He’s three years into his professional career and I’m excited for him.
The two had hoped they may team up someday in the Pirates organization. But with Gift now in the Blue Jays organization, they’re looking forward to meeting in opposing dugouts.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” said Victor. “To play against each other, that would be great.”
“That’ll be a very competitive game,” said Gift.
Like true siblings, they’ve already found a way to compete before they’ve even meet face-to-face on the diamond.
“At the end of every season, I’ll compare my stats to when he started,” said Victor. “Who made the most errors? Who had the most hits? So we’re very competitive.”