A gay former Major League Baseball player said he was not upset by anti-LGBT criticism of his “lifestyle” by a New York Met after he joined the team for spring training.
The Mets invited Billy Bean, who came out as gay after retiring and now serves as MLB’s ambassador of inclusion, to speak with players Tuesday and take part in practice drills.
The 50-year-old Bean, a major leaguer from 1987-1995, said he “can’t deny the inner joy” he felt to wear a big league uniform again, and he talked to players, Mets officials, and sportswriters.
“For a man like me who loves baseball, it was nearly a perfect day,” he said.
Bean said everyone he met with made him feel like “one of the guys,” but he returned to his hotel room afterward to find one Mets player had made anti-LGBT remarks about him to a reporter.
“I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual,” said second baseman Daniel Murphy, who described himself as a devout Christian. “That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him.”
“Maybe, as a Christian, we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality,” Murphy continued. “We love the people. We disagree [with] the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride.”
“I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door,” he added. “That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”
Bean said he admired Murphy for speaking honestly, and he praised his decision last season to miss Opening Day for the birth of his son.
“He was brave to share his feelings, and it made me want to work harder and be a better example that someday might allow him to view things from my perspective, if only for just a moment,” Bean said. “I respect him, and I want everyone to know that he was respectful of me. We have baseball in common, and for now, that might be the only thing. But it’s a start.”
He was encouraged that Murphy said he would be open to forming a relationship with a potential gay teammate, and he said this seemed to signal the player was trying to reconcile his religious beliefs with his perception of what it means to be gay.
“Inclusion means everyone, plain and simple,” Bean said. “Daniel is part of that group.”
He cited Jackie Robinson’s example in breaking the color line in Major League Baseball, and he said “a little patience, compassion and hard work” might open the door to openly gay players.
“It took me 32 years to fully accept my sexual orientation, so it would be hypocritical of me to not be patient with others,” Bean said.
Watch Bean discuss trying to play baseball on the day his partner died: