Daniel Murphy Speaks; Billy Bean Responds

by Douglas Fox | Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
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New York Mets OF Daniel Murphy had some words of exclusion for MLB’s Ambassador of Inclusion, Bill Bean.

Bean, who came out of the closet and admitted his homosexuality after his career ended in 1994, has been making the rounds of MLB training camps this spring, and was visiting the Mets’ yesterday at the invitation of GM Sandly Alderson.

Hired last year, Bean’s mission is to provide guidance and training to support those in the LGBTQ community throughout baseball.  At Alderson’s suggestion, Bean appeared in uniform, although he was initially reluctant to do so. 

The devoutly religious Murphy, who missed Opening Day last year in order to be present for the birth of his son (which some New York media types with apparently even more outdated views than Murphy disagreed with), told the media that while he supported Bean, he had problems with his “lifestyle”:

“I disagree with his lifestyle,” Murphy said. “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. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

Putting aside the question of how you invest in someone while making comments that completely undermine who and what they are as a person, Murphy continued:

“We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”

Bean, much to his credit, took the high rode in his response to Murphy’s comments:

After reading his comments, I appreciate that Daniel spoke his truth. I really do. I was visiting his team, and a reporter asked his opinion about me. He was brave to share his feelings, and it made me want to work harder and be a better example that someday might allow him to view things from my perspective, if only for just a moment.

I respect him, and I want everyone to know that he was respectful of me. We have baseball in common, and for now, that might be the only thing. But it’s a start.

The silver lining in his comments are that he would be open to investing in a relationship with a teammate, even if he “disagrees” with the lifestyle. It may not be perfect, but I do see him making an effort to reconcile his religious beliefs with his interpretation of the word lifestyle. It took me 32 years to fully accept my sexual orientation, so it would be hypocritical of me to not be patient with others.

Craig Calcaterra, writing for The Hardball Times, had an excellent observation of Murphy’s claim that he “disagrees” with Bean’s “lifestyle”:

“Disagreeing” with Bean or anyone else’s homosexuality is nonsensical. It’s not an opinion. It’s not a philosophy, political position, choice or a world view. It’s a fact. It’s part of who Bean is as a person. To say one “disagrees” with Bean’s homosexuality is no more coherent than saying one “disagrees” with Murphy’s left-handedness. Or with Murphy’s heterosexuality for that matter. Who would ever say they “disagreed” with Murphy’s heterosexuality? What would we think of a person who said that?

Murphy at least shows some compassion in his comments about Bean, but he completely misses the mark when he talks about homosexuality about being a “choice.”  And by doing so, he contradicts his apparent acceptance – with conditions – of Bean.  And it shows that while society has come a long way, the little world of baseball still has some work to do.  Which is unfortunate.   We leave the last word on this to Bean, who invokes Jackie Robinson:

Inclusion means everyone, plain and simple. Daniel is part of that group. A Major League clubhouse is now one of the most diverse places in sports. It wasn’t always that way, but we can thank No. 42 for that. So in his honor, with a little patience, compassion and hard work, we’ll get there.

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Douglas Fox
About the Author

Doug Fox has played, watched, studied, and generally obsessed about baseball for decades, and once played in the Toronto Star Pee-Wee Baseball tournament. He writes about Blue Jays prospects and minor league baseball at clutchlings.blogspot.ca Follow him on Twitter @Clutchlings77.

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