The New York Mets have invited Major League's inclusion ambassador and openly gay player Billy Bean to their 2015 Spring Training camp to raise awareness of gay players in sport today.
The New York Mets have invited Billy Bean to their 2015 Spring Training camp.
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According to a March 3 update by NJ.com's Mike Vorkunov, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was struck by a message Bean--a retired, openly gay baseball player--delivered in Nov. 2014 about a message for inclusion of gay players in the sport of baseball. Alderson was the first to approach Bean to discuss the matter.
Back then, Alderson considered the idea of Bean visiting the Mets during Spring Training, playing in a few games and mingling with Mets players for several days. Vorkunov writes it was Alderson's way of "making sure that Bean's message reached the organization."
Four months later, Bean, who announced that he was gay after he retired in 1995, is in a Mets uniform for the team's 2015 Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, Fl., per NJ.com.
Apparently, this won't be the last time Bean will visit a major league baseball team. Vorkunov says Bean will not visit all 30 clubs, but did drop by Detroit Tigers camp before joining the Mets this week.
Bean told Vorkunov his mission of being an inclusion ambassador has officially begun. He said,"It's a conversation that begins today. The goal has not been met...We're trying to reach out to people and we are there if they reach back."
Had he been given this opportunity during his playing days with the San Diego Padres, Bean told NJ.com,"It would have been life changing."
Alderson confirmed to Vorkunov he spoke with current Mets players before bringing Bean in. They did not oppose the idea.
The NJ.com article states Bean left baseball 20 years ago because "of pressure he put himself and the burden he carried." For his part, new Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who's never had a gay teammate, told Vorkunov in a separate NJ.com update the sport of baseball is willing to embrace gay players.
He said,"In my opinion, nobody should be run out of a game or doing something that they're good at based on something that doesn't matter out on the field. In that respect, I think baseball as a whole would be willing to accept that."
On the other hand, Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, a devout Christian, told Vorkunov on Tuesday that he "disagrees" with Bean's lifestyle but is willing to reach out to him:
"I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn't mean I can't still invest in him and get to know him. I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.
"Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven't been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. 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. That's not love. That's not love at all."
Alderson describes Bean retiring in 1995 due to his struggles with his sexuality as "a shame," per NJ.com:
"It's a shame that he couldn't survive in the game longer given what he was feeling. That's not right. That's not fair and that's not something that in this day and age a player should have to face.
"And it's not just about being gay, it's about having any kind of personal issue that makes it difficult to go out and perform and enjoy the game."
In an MLB.com article he wrote on Wednesday, Bean said he received a lot of emails asking him to comment on Murphy's remarks about his lifestyle. Bean began my expressing his admiration for Murphy, who skipped Opening Day 2014 for the birth of his son in Florida.
Bean then says there is mutual respect between the two men, per MLB.com:
"After reading his comments, I appreciate that Daniel spoke his truth. I really do. I was visiting his team, and a reporter asked his opinion about me. 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.
"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.
"The silver lining in his comments are that he would be open to investing in a relationship with a teammate, even if he 'disagrees' with the lifestyle. It may not be perfect, but I do see him making an effort to reconcile his religious beliefs with his interpretation of the word 'lifestyle.' It took me 32 years to fully accept my sexual orientation, so it would be hypocritical of me to not be patient with others.
"Inclusion means everyone, plain and simple. Daniel is part of that group. A Major League clubhouse is now one of the most diverse places in sports. It wasn't always that way, but we can thank No. 42 for that. So in his honor, with a little patience, compassion and hard work, we'll get there."
Bean reveals in the MLB.com update he declined Alderson's invitation at first becuse he "didn't want to take any attention away from his players." He also adds he enjoyed himself during Mets Spring Training, as he felt "just like one of the guys."
The 50-year-old Bean suited up for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in his six-year MLB career. He amassed 108 hits, five home runs and 53 RBIs on a .226 batting average in 272 career regular-season games, per Baseball-Reference.com.
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