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Thursday, March 28, 2013

LGBT: BILLY BEAN: Padres hero returns to San Diego for ‘Out at the Park’

The art of playing an unfair game…

There are some very serious gay baseball fans out there who rank players by batting average and wins above replacement (WAR). The rest rank them by attraction and aspiration: who’s hot, who might be gay and who must be gay.

Most gay Padres fans in the early ’90s no doubt put boyishly handsome outfielder Billy Bean on the first two lists. Those who had him on the “must be gay” list share a unique status among baseball observers: they are sure they were right.

In 1999, a few years after retiring from the Padres, Bean came out of the closet in an interview with Dianne Sawyer, followed by his book Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in and out of Major League Baseball. 14 years later, he remains the only openly gay current or former Major League player.

In April, Bean is coming back to San Diego as a special guest for San Diego LGBT Pride’s Out at the Park, where he will be at the tailgate party and later on the field. It will be the first time Bean has been on a major league field since leaving baseball. I got the chance to chat with him about his visit, his life and the status of gays in professional sports.

Assuming that there are some gay players, do you think that the media looks the other way? Should they do more or less than they do?

I think any writer would love to be the first to find out [that a player is gay]. I just think guys are very, very careful now. If they wanted people to know, it would happen. If they don’t, [they] just find ways not to put [themselves] in those situations. I never talked about gay stuff … if I saw the Oprah Winfrey show on in the trainer’s room and she was talking about gay things, I walked out of there.

I know that people don’t understand the pressure for an athlete if he’s single and he doesn’t have a girlfriend … and doesn’t like to go to strip bars or whatever players do. People are going to talk. So you cover it up. I know I did. I was ashamed of it.

I don’t think there’s the meanness, like in Hollywood, where they want to out actors who pretend that they’re straight because they want to stay famous. When I was playing, I felt like most of [the writers] wanted to stick to baseball. The superstars who had troubles, like Darryl Strawberry, who I played with on the Dodgers, they obviously did write about that. Each situation is unique.

Repoz Posted: March 28, 2013 at 06:13 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: padres

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: March 28, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4398732)
14 years later, he remains the only openly gay current or former Major League player.


I thought there was another guy who was on the Dodgers that was openly gay. (Glen Burke?) I guess in this day and age, it's not required to do a 20 second google search to check your facts. (I guess they meant still alive)
   2. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 28, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4398734)
Well, cfb, Glenn Burke is dead so they are technically correct.

A-Rod continues to be the only openly out equine which, let's face it, is more--ahem--impressive.
   3. Bruce Markusen Posted: March 28, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4398736)
Yes, Burke was the first to come out. Bean was the second.
   4. The District Attorney Posted: March 28, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4398765)
Jackie Robinson is dead, but he was still the first (post-color line) black player, no? I would consider the statement to be an error.

Something that has been bugging me for decades is whether Bill James' comment on Bean in the 1994 Player Ratings Book...
when called up, regressed into his habit of swinging at everything that doesn't wear lace underwear
... was meant to be a nudge-nudge allusion or not. I don't exactly feel comfortable asking Bill about this in his mailbag. The only comment I've ever gotten on this was the speculation of Sam M. (whom I wish daily would return!) that it must have scared the crap out of the closeted Bean to read that.
   5. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: March 28, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4398799)
Kazuhito Tadano, let's face it, is also gay.
   6. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: March 28, 2013 at 09:07 PM (#4398818)
The rest rank them by attraction and aspiration: who’s hot
i can answer this for anyone who's interested:

noone



   7. Knock on any Iorg Posted: March 28, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4398911)
I wonder how often he is conflated with Billy Beane now that Moneyball has entered the public consciousness.
   8. Eric Ferguson Posted: March 28, 2013 at 11:37 PM (#4398917)
Billy Beane should never have written that book ... about being gay.
   9. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:37 AM (#4399007)
Redacted.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4399022)
There was an amicus brief filed by a group made up professional athletes. There were numerous active NFL players on the list of supporters (Alex Mack, Connor Barwin, D'Qwell Jackson, Eric Winston). There was one NBA player (Kenneth Faried) and one former NHL player (Sean Avery). There is no one associated with MLB past or present. I don't know if that's because NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo spearheaded the effort, and they don't know any MLB players, or if MLB players just aren't as supporting of gay marriage as NFL players.

Have any active MLBers actively come out and supported gay marriage? I mean more than shrug their shoulders and say "I don't care what gay people do, let them marry."

I would guess Brandon McCarthy has if I had to guess anyone, he seems like an outspoken and fairly liberal guy.
   11. SoSH U at work Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4399031)
Have any active MLBers actively come out and supported gay marriage? I mean more than shrug their shoulders and say "I don't care what gay people do, let them marry."


Matt Cain, Mat Latos and Yovgoni Gallardo all supported the NoH8 campaign.

Schilling has specifically voiced support for gay marriage, but no one likes him.
   12. Answer Guy Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4399137)
Amazed we haven't had an out ballplayer yet. Whoever is first is pretty guaranteed to be (in)famous, and there's lots of guys out there who want to be famous, aren't there?
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4399139)
Amazed we haven't had an out ballplayer yet. Whoever is first is pretty guaranteed to be (in)famous, and there's lots of guys out there who want to be famous, aren't there?


I think it will be complete nonissue in terms of the clubhouse (and have for a long time). And I think he'll have a hell of a lot of endorsement opportunities.
   14. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: March 29, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4399142)
I think it will be complete nonissue in terms of the clubhouse (and have for a long time). And I think he'll have a hell of a lot of endorsement opportunities.


I would say the biggest deterrent is safety and security. You come out and for sure your financial situation gets better with endorsements, etc. But now you're a target for a whole lot of crazy. Are you ready for the Westboro morons to follow you around the country like Deadheads? What about the lone nutcase who hates what you stand for?
   15. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4399148)
The rest rank them by attraction and aspiration: who’s hot
i can answer this for anyone who's interested:

noone


Even in his mid-60s, I guess Peter Noone is in pretty decent shape.
   16. SoSH U at work Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:03 PM (#4399149)

I would say the biggest deterrent is safety and security. You come out and for sure your financial situation gets better with endorsements, etc. But now you're a target for a whole lot of crazy. Are you ready for the Westboro morons to follow you around the country like Deadheads? What about the lone nutcase who hates what you stand for?


To my knowledge, the Westboro nitwits have not targeted any individual gays. And I don't know of any lone nutcases who have done likewise. Is it possible? Sure. Is there any reason to think it will happen? No.

   17. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4399154)

Amazed we haven't had an out ballplayer yet. Whoever is first is pretty guaranteed to be (in)famous, and there's lots of guys out there who want to be famous, aren't there?


Agree. There was a story this week that an active NFL player is mulling coming out before the year.

I can't imagine a gay athlete would be in any more danger than any other gay celebrity.
   18. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4399162)
Have any active MLBers actively come out and supported gay marriage? I mean more than shrug their shoulders and say "I don't care what gay people do, let them marry."


Ernie Banks (along with Richard Dent and some other people) co-signed a letter to the Illinois house in favor of a gay marriage bill currently milling around the chambers of power. Not an active player, obviously, but a prominent Hall of Famer.

This has been said before, but an obvious candidate for the the first out MLB player would be a contemporary version of Bean or Burke, a marginal MLB player who realizes that there's more of a future for him in book deals and speaking tours than there is on the field. If the announcement hurts his playing career (I don't think it would, but I can understand a player worrying that it would) it doesn't matter that much to him, at least not financially.
   19. The District Attorney Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4399175)
an obvious candidate for the the first out MLB player would be a contemporary version of Bean or Burke, a marginal MLB player who realizes that there's more of a future for him in book deals and speaking tours than there is on the field.
This describes NBA player John Amaechi, so yes, it is certainly possible such a player could be first. But -- not to disrespect Amaechi -- that didn't seem to bring about a sea change. And I think what people are mostly wondering is, who is going to permanently end the taboo?

Calcaterra has speculated that the first openly gay player could be someone in a position similar to Bryce Harper's a couple of years ago -- a young kid, who has grown up in a more tolerant era and doesn't even see what the fuss is all about, and who is a mega-prospect whom teams will be dying to draft either way. I thought that was an interesting theory.

It's ultimately impossible to predict, but I agree with the general consensus that it will come very soon, not only because it will be tolerated but because it actually will be advantageous to the player in certain respects.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: March 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4399180)

Well, this describes NBA player John Amaechi, and -- not to disrespect Amaechi -- that didn't seem to bring about a sea change.


Except for the coming out while he was an active player part. I think that's a pretty important distinction.

Calcaterra has speculated that the first openly gay player could be someone in a position similar to Bryce Harper's a couple of years ago -- a young kid, who has grown up in a more tolerant era and doesn't even see what the fuss is all about, and who is a mega-prospect whom teams will be dying to draft either way. I thought that was an interesting theory.


I think as long as the guy isn't already perceived as ######## (note to A.J.: if you're in the closet, stay there), it will be a non-issue in the clubhouse. I don't think it needs to be any type of ballplayer in particular.

   21. zonk Posted: March 29, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4399183)
I can't imagine a gay athlete would be in any more danger than any other gay celebrity.


While I agree to some extent... I do think that if you're talking about sports fans, you have a different demographic slice to deal with... i.e., it's relatively easy for Angry Dude Wearing Zubas Convinced the Country is Going to Hell to be satisfied with dismissive chatter about actors, singers, even politicians - those are realms said Angry Dude thinks are cesspools anyway. However, this would be an invasion of some sort of last bastion turf. Add alcohol to the equation - and let's face it, you have to - and I think the volatility mix does go up a measurable degree.

Say what you will about various opinions on such matters here... but let's be honest - we can at least discuss such matters, even if heated and angrily. I think we've all been to enough sporting events to know that 'fan nation' doesn't reach our refined level of humanity!

Were I in the position of being gay and an NFL/MLB/NBA player considering coming out -- I do think safety would be something I would consider and would be wise TO consider... Nowadays, not so much that some mob is going to drag me out of the locker room, but that it only takes one person and I'm all but certain there are a measurable number of those "one person" types in the particular base to whom my skills and profession happen to cater.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: March 29, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4399184)
Giving it a little more thought, from the perspective of the club and the league, it would probably help if the guy is an average player or better. If it's some replacement level guy, then roster decisions could become problematic in either direction ("he only got cut because he was gay," or "they only keep him around because he's gay").
   23. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4399264)
This describes NBA player John Amaechi, so yes, it is certainly possible such a player could be first. But -- not to disrespect Amaechi -- that didn't seem to bring about a sea change. And I think what people are mostly wondering is, who is going to permanently end the taboo?

I found the Onion article about Amaechi to be hilarious:

John Amaechi Comes Out As Former NBA Player

STOCKPORT, ENGLAND—British homosexual John Amaechi sent shockwaves throughout the sporting world last week when he announced, much to the surprise of his family and friends—in addition to NBA players and fans—that he lived a double life for five years in which he secretly worked as a professional basketball player.

"It was difficult living with this secret," said Amaechi, who in his new autobiography Man In The Middle reveals that he played in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic, and perhaps most shockingly, the New York Knicks....
   24. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4399270)
Posted these in the soccer thread, but here are NYTimes and Guardian interviews with Robbie Rogers, the 25 year-old U.S. soccer player who just came out and retired (or maybe not).
   25. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4399274)
22 - that's my take

with amaechi, i thought it was a bit unfortunate that he was the guy who came out at that time, given that he was never particularly popular with fans or teammates.
   26. puck Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4399279)
Amazed we haven't had an out ballplayer yet. Whoever is first is pretty guaranteed to be (in)famous, and there's lots of guys out there who want to be famous, aren't there?


See the Guardian link in #24. Rogers felt coming out was a big enough burden; he didn't want to try it while also trying to play professionally. He's had a lot of support since then, and I think he'd have a lot of support if he came back to MLS. But he's not there yet.
   27. Moe Greene Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4399283)
I think Jack Keefe will be the first openly gay active player.
   28. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 29, 2013 at 03:48 PM (#4399286)
Jackie Robinson is dead, but he was still the first (post-color line) black player, no?

But was he openly black?

Even in his mid-60s, I guess Peter Noone is in pretty decent shape.

She's... a.... muscular boy.
   29. Walt Davis Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:20 PM (#4399529)
Calcaterra has speculated that the first openly gay player could be someone in a position similar to Bryce Harper's a couple of years ago -- a young kid, who has grown up in a more tolerant era and doesn't even see what the fuss is all about, and who is a mega-prospect whom teams will be dying to draft either way. I thought that was an interesting theory.

I'm surprised we aren't seeing more openly gay high school and college athletes. Would anybody really bat an eye if a top college baseball player was openly gay? Would teams really not draft that player?

Now, what's the reaction if Danica Patrick comes out as gay?
   30. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:27 PM (#4399533)
With all the talk about endorsement opportunities and fame accruing, where's the one guy who does it because it's the right thing to do, and not just to cash in? What a view of human nature upthread...

I'm with Answer Guy in 12. It's effing weird that no active player has come out. On the other hand, fag jokes in locker rooms were ubiquitous not long ago.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:28 PM (#4399534)
I'm surprised we aren't seeing more openly gay high school and college athletes. Would anybody really bat an eye if a top college baseball player was openly gay? Would teams really not draft that player?


Really? I can't imagine a high school athlete being openly gay and managing to handle the pressure all the way through to the professional ranks.

Now, what's the reaction if Danica Patrick comes out as gay?

disappointment...followed by legions of requests for the unedited Godaddy videos.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: March 29, 2013 at 10:37 PM (#4399537)
With all the talk about endorsement opportunities and fame accruing, where's the one guy who does it because it's the right thing to do, and not just to cash in? What a view of human nature upthread...


I don't think anyone said (and I know I didn't) you come out because of the endorsement opportunities, just that they will likely be available to the first person who does. But you never know about that Answer Guy - he's probably like one of them flip-flopping Democrats who are suddenly pro-gay because it's fashionable. (-:

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