Rosenthal: How Billy Bean came back to baseball

From Ken Rosenthal at on September 3, 2014:

Billy Bean was in Portland, Ore., when he got the call. Not the kind of call he once received as a minor-league outfielder, summoning him to the majors. No, a call that was even more significant, the first step toward baseball welcoming Bean, a publicly gay man, back to its family.

This was in mid-June. Bean was attending the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Sports Summit. Paul Mifsud, a vice president and deputy general counsel for baseball in labor relations, left Bean a voicemail, saying he would like to speak with him.

Bean called back.

“I feel like this phone call is about 13 years too late,” Mifsud said.

The call was a pivotal moment in baseball’s efforts to become more inclusive, efforts that dated back more than a year and produced a strategic alliance with a non-profit organization dedicated to making sports safe, respectful and inclusive for everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Efforts that marked a natural if belated progression for the sport of Jackie Robinson, efforts that led to Bean being named baseball’s ambassador for inclusion on July 15, roughly one month after he took Mifsud’s call.

Mifsud told Bean that he wanted to talk with him, wanted him to come to New York, to MLB’s Park Avenue offices, as soon as possible. Bean was taken aback by Mifsud’s urgency, thought something might be wrong. No, Mifsud assured him, everything was fine.

A few days later, on the morning of June 20, Bean met at the MLB offices with four top baseball executives — Mifsud, executive VP of labor relations Dan Halem, VP of public relations Pat Courtney and VP and deputy general counsel for labor relations Steven Gonzalez.

And it all came pouring out.

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Originally published: September 3, 2014. Last Updated: September 3, 2014.