NEW YORK (WFAN) — Major League Baseball’s first inclusion ambassador says his visit to New York Mets camp this week was “100 percent successful” despite the controversial comments made afterward by second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Billy Bean, the former big leaguer who came out four years after his retirement, wrote Wednesday on MLB.com that he appreciated Murphy’s perspective as a devout Christian. He reiterated those points and more Thursday on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show.
“I think what was great that happened that came out of (the situation) with Daniel is the fact that he, in his most earnest, honest-self way, was trying to, I think, establish what kind of person he wants to be,” Bean told co-hosts Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. “And then to come forward in his interpretation, it shows that he’s just really never had an opportunity probably to ever be around someone like me — at least that he knew about — or someone who has been in the closet like I was for 10 years. So I think it’s just an example of how important the message is. I think Daniel Murphy has great leadership potential.”
Bean was a guest in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday, taking up general manager Sandy Alderson in his offer to participate in team drills in full uniform. Later in the day, Murphy responded to questions about the visit by saying he’d accept a gay teammate, but disagrees with the so-called “lifestyle” and “the fact that Billy is a homosexual.”
“For me, I didn’t take it personally,” Bean told Boomer and Carton. “It just makes me feel like I’ve gotta do my job a little bit better. And it was a reminder that we’re just getting started.”
Bean, 50, believes he has a lot in common with Murphy, adding it’s on him to provide ballplayers with “consistent, solid images that they can relate to.”
“We have baseball in common — and there’s a start, right there,” he said. “I come from the same kind of environment that most likely Daniel does. My dad was in the Marine Corps, I was the oldest of five boys, we were raised Catholic, he was from the Midwest. There was no training for me, either. And it took me a long time to finally accept myself, and it wasn’t until I learned from so many people in my own community, the LGBT community, about self-acceptance.”
Bean, who broke into the majors with Detroit in 1987 and retired after his last season with San Diego in ’95, hasn’t spoken with Murphy since Tuesday. But he expects — and welcomes — the opportunity later this year.
“I know that from my conversations with people in the Mets organization that (Murphy) was just trying to make, I guess, an example of what he believes in,” Bean said. “And remember, I walked into his environment. A reporter asked him a question about me. He didn’t go around saying anything, and he treated me with complete respect when we were out there all playing catch and walking together from field to field.
“So I just think it’s a lot for a young man to put on his shoulders, and I know I’ll be around the Mets during the season. I’ve been invited back to throw (batting practice) early in the afternoons and I’m sure him and I will get a chance to cross paths on the field, and I’ll be the first one to go up there and say hello and see if we can have a conversation man to man.”
Listen to the full interview to hear more of Bean’s thoughts on Murphy, openly gay football player Michael Sam and his own journey as a baseball player: