The New York Mets invited Billy Bean to work out with them today in Florida for Spring Training in an effort to raise awareness about gay athletes. Last summer Bean was named an Ambassador for Inclusion by Major League Baseball. He has met with various executives and teams, including the Detroit Tigers with whom he once played.
Bean tweeted out:
It is a strong symbol to see Bean back in a baseball uniform. While he never played for the Mets, the organization has obviously embraced what he stands for from the top down. Bean has said many times that he wishes he had felt able to come out while he was still playing.
One interesting tidbit from the gesture by Mets general manager Sandy Alderson included this insight from NJ.com:
"Alderson says he approached Mets players before inviting Bean and they all welcomed it."
Why did Alderson feel the need to run it by some of the players? I suppose it could be because he was inviting someone who wasn't really going to be part of the team to take part in drills. Or it could be the same reason Jerry Jones felt the need to ask Dallas Cowboys players how they felt about bringing Michael Sam onto the team: Because these executives still see being gay as a potential problem in their locker rooms. Likely, it was a combination of the two. Front-office executives are so damn afraid of what the players might think. Yet even anti-gay Christians can welcome gay players onto their teams.
As Bean has said, there's still a lot of work to do. It's a great thing that he's there to have the conversations and make these men realize there just isn't a big issue here.