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MLB Appoints Billy Bean as Inclusion Consultant 

Commissioner Bud Selig announced Tuesday morning that former Padres outfielder Billy Bean (no relation to Oakland Athletics’ GM Billy Beane) has been appointed to be a leading consultant on “inclusion” in Major League Baseball. Beans official title is the “Ambassador for Inclusion in Major League Baseball.”

What this means is that Bean will be advising Commissioner Selig and the entire MLB organization on matters of including players who may identify as a part of the LGBTQIA (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer-Intersex-Asexual) community. This is the first time Major League Baseball has made an official, public effort to reach out to the LGBTQIA community by bringing a consultant into the ranks of the organization’s administration.

While MLB recently started a partnership with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit organization that works to educate and activate athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports, this is the first time MLB has appointed an official “ambassador” for inclusion.

This appointment came a year after Major League Baseball issued a policy that prohibits players from harassing and discriminating against other players based on sexual orientation. Bean will assist Major League Baseball in providing training and support efforts across all levels of professional baseball (both the Majors and Minors). Bean also intends to help MLB develop training initiatives against sexism, homophobia, prejudice, and other disparaging actions against players and teammates based on their sexual preference.

“Major League Baseball is delighted that Billy, a member of the baseball family, will advise and represent our sport on a wide range of matters,” Selig said. “As a social institution, our game has important social responsibilities… I believe that Billy will help us proactively cultivate those fundamental principles, and he will serve as a significant resource to our clubs, current and future players and many others throughout our game.”

Bean, who played for the Padres over parts of three seasons between 1993 and 1995, came out as openly gay back in 1999, four years after his announced retirement. Bean was active in the majors for six seasons, debuting with the Detroit Tigers in 1987 and playing one season for the Dodgers back in 1989. Bean carried a lifetime .226/.266/.308 line with 5 homeruns and 53 RBI over his career.

Regarding his appointment, Bean had this to say: “As a young man, I silently walked away from baseball for all the wrong reasons, and today I am truly humbled that the Commissioner’s Office has brought me back to lead the effort on inclusion. I will honor baseball’s great tradition, and be the resource that our current and future players need as they embrace their responsibility as role models to our fans.”

Bean was the second Major League Baseball player to reveal his homosexuality to the public eye, following Glenn Burke who came out during his tenure as a player. Burke was quoted as saying that “they can’t ever say now that a gay man can’t play in the majors, because I’m a gay man and I made it.” Burke passed away in 1995 from AIDS-related causes, and was memorialized and dedicated in Bean’s book Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in and out of Major League Baseball.

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About the author: Ian Edward Russell Smith

Ian is a former writer for the San Diego Padres, having worked as the Padres' "In-Season Blogger" during the 2015 season. Ian wrote as a member of the Friarhood's writing staff between parts of 2013-2015, writing over 100 articles over that span. In addition to being a writer, Ian is also a recent graduate of California Western School of Law in San Diego, having earned a Juris Doctor, as well as his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Law & Society from the University of California, Riverside. Be sure to follow Ian on Twitter (@SDRedBull8) to see what other ramblings he's posted about the Padres, San Diego, and baseball in general!