Billy Bean, the former Major League Baseball player and now league executive who is openly gay, is again demonstrating the importance of LGBT people in sports being out and visible.

Bean, who is a vice president in the commissioner’s office and regularly talks to team about LGBT issues in sports, says he is now friends with Daniel Murphy.

This is the same Murphy who in 2015 said, “I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect.”

Murphy made the comments while a member of the New York Mets after Bean addressed the team on the topic of LGBT inclusion. Bean then wrote a column addressing Murphy’s comments, where he took the high road, saying, “I appreciate that Daniel spoke his truth.”

Billy Bean in 2016.

Since then, Bean and Murphy — now with the Washington Nationals — have found common ground and become friends.

“The good part of the story is that over time, because of the interest of so many people, both sides, him and his wife contacted me and we started a friendship,” Bean told SNY TV in New York. “And he said that I helped him to start to consider things from a different perspective and I thought it was generous of him to do that. …

“I’m sure that he’s never had a gay friend that’s in his current life. The fact that we have baseball in common, he can see from a distance the work that I try and do and I can watch the influence he tries to have with the platform he has.”

I admire Bean’s patience and his willingness to try and understand Murphy, which laid the groundwork for Murphy reconsidering long-held views.

This also shows how important it is for someone like Bean to have a role high up in MLB’s executive offices. None of the other big four male pro team American sports leagues has anything like it. By being out and visible, Bean can help to effect change and make friends with someone who easily could have become an enemy.