Saturday, October 5, 2013

Player Profile: Billy Bean

I have four cards of Billy Bean. This one is from 1989 Score Rising Stars.

Playing career: Outfielder Billy Bean played in 272 games for the Tigers, Dodgers and Padres from 1987 to 1995. He hit .226 with 5 HR and 53 RBI in 478 at bats.

Interesting facts: In 1999 Bean came out as homosexual, and he is still the only living baseball player to do so. Like many gay men, he had married a woman because he felt that was what he was supposed to do, but later divorced her as he realized his homosexuality. In 1993 he moved in with a man named Sam, who became ill with HIV and later AIDS. (Bean tested negative.) On April 23, 1995 Bean was with Sam when he died in the hospital. Still feeling forced to hide his identity, he played baseball later that day.  He quit baseball after that season, unable to continue leading a double life. Tragedy continued to haunt Bean’s relationships in later years. In 2008 he ended his thirteen-year relationship with Miami restaurant owner Efrain Veiga after Veiga invited a younger man to his apartment for a sexual encounter and the man died from complications from a date rape drug.

Bean’s celebrity as the only former major leaguer to come out has led to his appearances in numerous TV shows, including acting roles on Arli$$ and Frasier. He also posed nude for Blue Magazine. In 2004 he wrote an autobiography, Going the Other Way.

Where he is now: Bean is a Realtor for Laluxe Group and Keller Williams in Los Angeles. He has a website, BillyBean.com, and a blog, Just Sayin. Earlier this year he was named Vice Chairman of the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, an anti-bullying organization.

My memories: I remember him vaguely in the late 1980s when there were two players with almost the same name. I do remember him coming out in 1999, turning an obscure ex-ballplayer into a more prominent public position. It is amazing that fourteen years later there has not been another ex-ballplayer to come out.

Google Autocomplete results: He is ninth when you type Billy Be, between Billy Beane Salary, referring to the compensation of the A’s general manager, and Billy Beach Café, a restaurant in Long Beach, NY. Another prominent Billy Bean was an English comedian.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Billy Beane.

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