Billy Bean, photo by Marice Cohn Band

2nd Base: The Right Choice
Bean said he couldn't come out while playing. "Overnight they would have found some way to kick me out, because some dad doesn't want his little kid watching some gay baseball player and saying, 'I want to grow up to be just like him.'"

My dad would have been perfectly happy if I chose to become a gay Padre, since this year a player makes anywhere from a lowly $200,000 to (according to ESPN), $6,666,667 for Randy Myers. I guess that last dollar raise keeps him from being the antichrist of baseball.

Although Bean made it to the ranks of 1993-1995 All-Stars, the Padres eventually dropped him, according to the Associated Press, "To make room on the roster, they optioned outfielder Billy Bean to Vegas." AP didn't then say anything about Billy Bean's real story. That's what they call objective journalism at AP.

The Herald story on Bean was posted in the Entertainment section. God forbid a former player can come out in the Sports section.

This is how we are displaced from the grand scoreboard. This is how we are unremembered, unacknowledged, unaccepted. A talented athlete is forced to choose between love and a career. Unfortunately for baseball, Bean made the right choice.

This year, in San Diego, home of Billy's former team, somebody tossed tear gas at gay and lesbian parents in a pride parade. I bet the inbred White Supremacist dickweed who did it probably loves baseball. He probably even rooted for Billy more times than his beer-addled brain can recall.

To fight this sort of hatred, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), under criticism for commandeering plans for a Millennium March, keeps junk-mailing me that obtuse = sticker and order forms for similarly logo-laden baseball caps.

I imagine HRC will sell a lot of caps at the March. Folks will need to protect their heads, since Pat Robertson's satellite dish will be aimed at us and set on FRY. You know how much he paid Dr. Evil for this service, doncha?

Whether I go or not, I'm full up on baseball caps, and wish HRC would take me off their mailing list, since I run on a different calendar: Pagan Gay Pride, 3030th Anniversary.

And even if I had a life partner now, I wouldn't need an arcane Christian ritual on a D.C. side street and a $25 sheepskin to prove my love. I'd just give up a promising career in the major leagues.

The Real Billy Doll

by Jim Provenzano
Bay Area Reporter

1st Base: What I Did For Love
On a hot August 11, 1993, with the bases loaded, Billy Bean hit a home run in the third inning of a home game against Houston. Despite his best efforts, pitcher Darryl Kile failed to strike out Bean, who aced a grand slam.

A former member of the San Diego Padres, Bean had a .415 average in 1994. This week he hit a home run, despite being retired. He came out in The Miami Herald.

The 35-year-old moved to Miami to be with his partner, Efrain Veiga, who runs a new restaurant called Mayya. Add that to your must-do list for Florida.

Padres World, "your source for everything Padres," fails to mention this, or that back in 1994, Bean had to play a crucial game after having watched his first partner die on a hospital gurney that morning from a burst pancreas.

The pain of telling no one on his team of the loss and grief he went through forced Bean to vow that, should he be lucky enough to find another man, he would quit baseball for love.

He did.

3rd Base: Out Fielders
I was sitting at a picnic table with a few gay men, when one of them let slip that he was friends with the boyfriend of a major league ball player.

"What position?" I asked. He hesitated, then told me.

"Would the team's mascot be a ______ (insert animal here)?"

He gasped.

I didn't need to ask any more questions. In the world of "objective journalism," three sources and you're out.

But I won't out him, or the other major league players whose names come to me now with increasingly convincing frequency.

I guess these players just need that extra few million dollars, and if some children get tear-gassed outside the stadium, or if their teammates have to pinch-hit the day after their boyfriends die, or just want to let their partners be able to show up at the Padres Wives Charity Auction without being crucified, well, hey, they're just ball players, after all. They can't change anything.

Until then, I'll just wear a Padres cap, so that when some guy in a bank machine line asks me if I'm a fan, I'll say "Yeah, particularly Billy Bean."

He'll get that puzzled look on his face, say, "He doesn't play anymore."

I'll say, "No, he runs a restaurant with his husband."

I think Bean should be in the Padres Hall of Fame alongside pitchers Rollie Fingers, Gaylord Perry and first baseman Willie McCovey, simply for getting himself to the dugout the day his first lover died. If it had been his wife, this would already be a TV movie.

Speaking of must-see TV, can somebody send me a video of that hot August night in San Diego when Billy Bean hit his grand slam against Houston's Darryl Kile?

Until then, I'll catch up on the careers of those other players, promise not to blow their cover, and hope they don't have to make the heart-ripping decision that Billy did. I know they need to accrue investments and such, so I'll give them time.

Read about Bean and other athletes at the 1999 SF Public Library's "Talk of the Times" Gay Athletes Panel


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