Major League Baseball is highlighting a story of friendship to start the season, and the two stars are helping to push the conversation about LGBTQ inclusion in baseball. In a lengthy feature story and MLB Network segment, Billy Bean, the league’s VP of social responsibility, and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo talk about their friendship that has spanned three decades.

Yet their friendship hit a rocky patch in the 1990s as Bean withdrew from his life and his friends as he began dating men. Lovullo never suspected Bean was gay, and he heard the news through news reports.

As Bean began his foray into MLB clubhouses to have conversations about inclusion, his old friend was one of the people in the sport easing Bean’s transition back to baseball.

From Anthony Castrovince’s story on

And it was Lovullo’s love of Bean that helped ease his friend’s reconciliation with the sport. It was admittedly unnerving for Bean, in that first year, to travel from club to club, wielding his life story via video, and giving a talk about inclusion. But it meant so much to him when he met with the Red Sox and Lovullo, who was then Boston’s bench coach, stood up and spoke up on his behalf.

Check out the entire feature and the MLB Network video segment.