No matter what he does, Gift Ngoepe‘s first play for the Pittsburgh Pirates will be a historic one.
The team called him up on Wednesday — after nine seasons in the minors — making him the first MLB player born in Africa. You know, the entire continent.
And thanks to the World Baseball Classic and Topps he’s already got a modest amount of MLB-approved cardboard for collectors to chase.
The 27-year-old infielder had a .232 average in 704 career games and just 37 homers and 201 RBI so it’s his glove that’s helping lead the way.
He’s got close to 50 different cards from the Bowman and Topps releases for the 2009 WBC with just three memorabilia cards and no autographs to fuel the chase. His earliest card is a 2008 Bowman Sterling WBC Patch limited to only 65 copies that was available via a redemption while his other Relics were in the 2009 Topps Update WBC Stitches set — those are limited to 25 copies per card.
All of his other cards are in eTopps and Bowman brands showing his time with the South Africa squad. Topps also worked him into its 2014 Topps Pro Debut set with a Hat Logo card limited to 99 copies that also had printing plates and a Gold parallel limited to just five copies. He had no other minor league cards besides team-issued releases.
His first MLB cards are likely to come via the Topps Now platform once he plays.
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