Billy Bean, the openly gay former Major League Baseball player and current vice president and special assistant to Commissioner Rob Manfred, has been named by USA Today as the 29th most powerful person in Major League Baseball. The publication wrote:

Still one of only two former MLB players to publicly come out as gay, Bean now serves as the league’s Ambassador for Inclusion. In that role, Bean tours clubhouses every year to engage with players in the hopes of fostering environments more accepting than those he confronted during his playing days in the late 1980s.

It is quite a meteoric rise for Bean. Just three years ago he was struggling to find his place in the sport he once called home. Now Bean is shaping the present and future of MLB.

It is also an incredible story of redemption… for baseball. In the early 90s, while playing for the San Diego Padres, Bean famously skipped his deceased partner’s funeral so no one in baseball would discover his secret. That the sport has elevated him to such a powerful position and embraced LGBT inclusion so powerfully is a testament to Bean and MLB.

We salute Bean and everyone who has supported him the last three years as he has opened vast conversations in the sport about LGBT inclusion.