Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ntema Ndungidi, 1998 Bowman #151

Your wish is my command, dear readers. So when a longtime follower like William requests a card of Ntema Ndungidi, I jump at the chance to actually show off this card. Sure, there's a chance that William was just being a smartass. Or maybe he saw this card in his own collection and thought he had a funny name; seriously, how many of those letters are silent? Perhaps he knew that Ntema was the first African-born player in professional baseball, having been born in the former Zaire (now the Congo), and thought it would be a neat tie-in to the World Cup. There's even a chance that William knew that the O's actually used a first-round "sandwich pick" (36th overall) to draft a guy who hadn't even played high school baseball and wouldn't end up making it beyond AA Bowie in six seasons in the organization. When you look at a decision like that, you can't help but feel a little more optimistic about more recent personnel choices in Birdland.

Any way you slice it, Ntema Ndungidi is a conversation starter.

10 comments:

Commish said...

Kevin I sure learn a lot about the team's semi-recent history here. This is another guy who came and went while I was in my decade long post-strike baseball funk. Interesting write-up. I can't fathom the route a guy takes to get from Zaire to the majors.

William said...

KB, you are wise. I was being a smartass...but I also own this gem:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?VISuperSize&item=270413664142

and recently came across it. You didn't mention this little nugget of info I found in a New York Daily News article: "The [Mariners] raised eyebrows with their bizarre pick in the Rule 5 draft of OF Ntema (Pappy) Ndungidi, of Zaire, from the Orioles. Ndungidi hit only .212 at Bowie last year and in 2000 he was arrested in Arizona for possession of marijuana and reportedly compounded that by getting caught rolling a joint in the jail."

I'm going to Ocean City, MD, next week with some friends, and my goal for that time is to work this guy into a conversation.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

[in case the link didn't work, it's a 2001 Bowman card of "Pappy" Ndungidi, he's shown bunting during batting practice]

William said...

Here's another cool article:
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1997-06-21/sports/1997172060_1_pappy-gillick-ndungidi

William said...

This guy is freakin interesting! Here's another bit from the Seattle Times:

"Mariners take a chance

Gillick is known as a risk-taker in drafts, and apparently did it again when he had the Mariners take an outfielder who once reportedly tried to practice in street clothes and talked to his locker.

He is Ntema "Pappy" Ndungidi, whom Seattle snagged in the Class AAA portion of yesterday's Rule 5 draft.

"Ndungidi is all right," said Gillick, who also drafted the outfielder as a compensation pick for Baltimore in the 1997 June draft. "We think he was headed to the big leagues with the Orioles, until he had a run-in with the law in Arizona in 2000."

Ndungidi was arrested in Arizona last year for possession of marijuana, and was reported to have gotten in trouble for rolling a joint in the Maricopa County jail.

"He's got attention deficit disorder," Gillick said. "And his problem has come when he's not used his medication. I'm satisfied he's all right. He's a good kid and a good player, got a ton of talent, easily worth drafting."

The outfielder, who immigrated with his family from Zaire to Canada when he was 4 years old, is said to be talented, although he batted .212 in 2001 with Bowie of the Eastern League."

PeteLevin said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Cabrera

Al Cabrera was born in the Canary Islands and played one game for the Cardinals in 1913, becoming the first Spanish-born and first African-born player in the Major Leagues.

PeteLevin said...

(Though I guess one could argue that the Canary Islands are a European territory. But do I get any points for that anyway?)

Collective Troll said...

I love the memories that these posts bring up! I really Pappy. He had a ton of talent for someone who came to the game late in life. Also I think that only one letter in his name is silent. Great post!

Kevin said...

Bob - Well, he never quite made it to the majors. Stalled out at AA.

William - Wow, I wish I'd found some of that information when I was slapping together this blog entry! Good thing I have another Pappy card waiting in the wings. Also, I too will be in OC next week. I'll look for the guy name-dropping Ntema Ndungidi.

Pete - Sure, five points for you!

Troll - Thanks!