Former Padres OF/1B Billy Bean — not to be confused with former Mets prospect / punk fan turned GM Billy Beane of Oakland — is the special guest of honor for San Diego LGBT Pride’s “Out At The Park” Night at Petco, May 19. Bean, author of “Going The Other Way : Lessons From A Life In and Out Of Major League Baseball”, was quizzed by LGBT Weekly’s Joel Trambley (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Can you talk about the day of your first home run?
I was at home … [a couple of guys on the team] wanted me to go out and have a few beers and celebrate. I lived in a place in Del Mar and my garage was on the basement level. When someone knocked on the door, I told my partner Sam, “You gotta go downstairs and get in the car,” and he sat in the garage for a couple of hours by himself. It was a stinging reminder of the way I looked at my own life, either lying or hiding something.
The story for me is that the happiest moment of my professional career turned into one of the worst days of my life, and in minutes. Unfortunately, I was posed a decision, and the one I made wasn’t kind. My partner understood, but I hurt his feelings and hurt my own feelings at the same time.
In a perfect world, or my world now, my partner and I would be sitting there, and if someone knocked on the door, we would have them come in. It would have been a great moment.
Was there backlash from players when you came out?
No, none at all, but that’s not really a fair assessment of what it would be like for a player who is still playing and walking out on the field.
I had been out of baseball for a couple of years, and I was kind of a good old guy when I played, and I was happy with the response of players. Definitely there were a few religious, like right wing, born again Christian kind of athletes who said they would not have been comfortable with me on the team; not because of me, but because I’m gay. They seemed to be in that mindset that if [someone is] gay, [they are] going to want to be with you just because you are the same sex. Dealing with that kind of antiquated mindset … there is nothing that any of us can do to change those people except live our lives the way we do. That part didn’t bother me.
The guys who said they wouldn’t have been comfortable with me … I had never played on the same team as any of those guys, so it was really kind of a theoretical question about a gay teammate, not Billy Bean as your teammate.