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Behind the scenes of Major League Baseball’s move toward greater inclusion of the LGBT community

Sep 3, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 3.13.32 PM AP

In July, Major League Baseball hired former player Billy Bean as the first Ambassador for Inclusion. His job: to work with major and minor league clubs to encourage equal opportunity in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Workplace Code of Conduct, which itself was designed to make baseball more welcoming and inclusive of the LGBT community and to help put an end to sexism, homophobia and prejudice within the world of baseball.

“Ambassador of Inclusion” is not the most conventional title. Indeed, it’s one which, if you’re wearing your cynical cap, you might take as some sort of tokenism. A “Look! We hired a gay former player! Can’t get on our case!” kind of thing.

As Ken Rosenthal reports today, however, it wasn’t that at all. Rosenthal writes about how Major League Baseball came to the conclusion that it needed to be proactive in this arena and that hiring Billy Bean was the right guy for the job. It’s a good read, and I heartily recommend it.


  1. flosox - Sep 3, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    How are they not included? My aunt is gay; goes to tons of Rays games. Has a blast!
    Never had a problem…..

    • flosox - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:02 PM

      Whoops…i should read before i post. Its about the workplace not attendance…
      My bad.

  2. jerze2387 - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Great. Now well have a practice squad level player getting press conferences for every walk and base hit they get like Michael Sam smh. If they’re “just like everybody else” and want to be treated the same, then why get all the special con sessions, committees and attempts to get them in. If they have the talent and skills, they won’t need special invitations and consessions.

    • clemente2 - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Umm, you need to do a bit of research and then think about what it means, so the next time you post you won’t come off as a stupid, boorish, assclown. Which I assume is not your goal.

      • scoochpooch - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:53 PM

        uh, actually, he doesn’t have to do any of that because he is right on the ball. You really think we need an affirmative action for LGBT? That’s insane. Have talent, opportunity will follow.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:08 PM

        To jerze and scooch and others: No one said anything about affirmative action. Here is an example of what needs to be addressed: We’ve seen more than once, a pitcher throws a no-hitter and we see shots of his spouse in the crowd, all nervous; then she is brought to the field and they happily kiss as everyone cheers. Given how many heads exploded when Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend on TV on draft day, it’s clear not every sports fan is evolved enough to fully accept gay professional athletes in our team sports.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        It doesn’t take affirmative action to promote acceptance.

      • jerze2387 - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:33 AM

        @nothanks The michael sam thing was way over the top. I have yet to see a pitcher lick cake off his girlfriends face. And comparing the 2 is exactly the problem. LBGT want to have EXTRA leeway and be immune to being criticized the same way straight athletes would be

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        jerze, do you also have a problem with Jan Vesely’s Draft Kiss? Or only Michael Sam’s?

      • ch0psuey - Sep 4, 2014 at 5:40 PM

        Spot on Jerze2387. And Clemente2 you come off as the assclown in this argument.

    • circuscatch22 - Sep 3, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      Unfortunately, we are not seen as the same. We are seen, in many instances, as less than. Therefore, there needs to procedures and groups put into place to make sure that we are not discriminated against regardless of our abilities (ie EEOC).

      • stercuilus65 - Sep 3, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        Thanks Derek.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      Here’s the thing: you say “they” and that’s the issue. “They” are not other people; “they” are baseball players. That’s why we need an inclusion program — so you’ll think it’s “we” achieving all these things, because it means we have become better for giving up our bigotry.

      • jerze2387 - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:35 AM

        THEY make themselves THEY by putting themselves in a different category and singling THEMSELVES out by forming a group and labeling themselves as LBGT instead of just “people”, you know, how THEY claim to want to be treated

      • historiophiliac - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        Excellent choice to double-down with the hate. Put your seatbelt on then, because you’re in for a ride — the world will continue to spin and you clearly don’t enjoy where it’s going. Have a great day. You’re losing.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      If they have the talent and skills, they won’t need special invitations and consessions.

      watch it, because the same could be said for baseball 60 years ago…

  3. mazblast - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    The gay community constantly seems to be saying, “We demand special attention and special privileges in our fight to be considered the same as everyone else”.

    “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”–George Orwell, “Animal Farm”

    • historiophiliac - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      Pssst. You’re the pig in that story.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      “We demand special attention and special privileges in our fight to be considered the same as everyone else”.

      Name one special privilege, one!

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:44 PM

        Psh… special privileges like being able to adopt children and not be discriminated against in hiring practices… duh.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 3, 2014 at 8:11 PM

        Gay babies!

    • sportsdrenched - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      What special privileges would those be?

    • Wesley Clark - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      If by special privileges you mean being treated as equals, you may have a point. Unfortunately, that is not what you were referring to. To claim that the LGBT community wants special privileges when all they want to be is treated as equals is disingenuous and just furthers an ugly stereotype.

      • asimonetti88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:45 PM

        next thing you know they’ll be asking us to let them get drivers licenses and own cell phones and stuff

    • normcash - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      Ah, the “special privileges” crap…An incredibly dumb post by a person who obviously hasn’t thought past his nose. He heard somebody say this once—probably a right-wing preacher—and parrots it back. Of course he doesn’t even try to say what special privileges gay people want—because he can’t. You’d think a guy like this would be embarrassed to parade his bigotry and ignorance before the whole on-line world….

  4. smackingfools - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    If you’re gay then be gay. Doesn’t mean I have to love to see it. Doesn’t mean I have to love to hear about it daily. Doesn’t mean I have to accept it. Just be gay. And leave me out of it.

    • historiophiliac - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:56 PM

      But you don’t at all mind that gay people have to put up with a constant barrage of pictures of straight couples and rom-coms about straight couples and dudes ogling women (or vice versa) and making public comments about and/or sharing hacked pictures of them — all of which makes them feel alienated and “different.” Tell you what, why don’t you just be straight and leave gay people out of it?

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Sep 3, 2014 at 8:30 PM

        I have to call you on that one. The stolen pix are just in poor taste no matter the gender or sexual preference and really don’t belong here. And the opinion about rom-coms and Benny Hill is a bit over the top. That’s like me, a left-handler, saying I don’t want to see any right-handed writers in movies. At some point, all-acceptance ensues.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:03 PM

        And the opinion about rom-coms and Benny Hill is a bit over the top.

        Reverse smackingfools comment from gay to straight and historio’s comment makes sense. Gay men and women (and trans-) are expected to “accept” the straight lifestyle all the while hearing from others that the non-straight lifestyle should just stay in the closet.

        The hacked photos tie in perfectly. In an earlier thread, around the time of Michael Sam being drafted, there were plenty of comments from people who “didn’t care about anyone‘s lifestyle, they just didn’t want to see it. How many of those people would not want ESPN to show Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend, but are gladly searching the web for naked pics of Kate Upton?

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Sep 3, 2014 at 9:19 PM

        I see what she was saying, her modest proposal, but I still say that the picture theft doesn’t fit here. It’s an invasion of privacy rather than a showing of affection. And I hope you understand that the PDA of straight, gay, trans, etc. shouldn’t be censored, though there will always be someone there to bitch about it.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 3, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        How was my rom com point “over the top”? What big budget rom coms featuring gay leads have come out in the last few years? How many people flock to see movies featuring gay love stories? That’s far from the norm in our country. It’s not over the top to point that out, and comparing gay people’s romantic lives being invisible in entertainment is nothing like there not being enough lefties on film.

        As for the hacking thing, yes, it is gross and a violation; however, where have you seen guys online demanding to see more pics of Verlander or hacking the phones of Anderson Cooper or Michael Sam for compromising photos of them and their partners? That’s how normative being straight is in our society. Even the scandals don’t touch gay people. I don’t at all see how something not being a showing of affection undermines my central point that you are inundated daily with images and messages where being straight is the normal and everything else is ignored or gets passing mention. If the hacking part blinds you to that, ignore it. It isn’t central to my argument. The point is that straight sexuality is everywhere all the time — and it’s as impossible to be who you are as a gay person without being as visible with your sexuality in the same way. So, dude better get used to it. He doesn’t get to dictate what gets seen and what gets hidden anymore.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Sep 4, 2014 at 8:35 AM

        I understand what you’re saying, but, if taken literally, what can we do, as a society, to be all-inclusive? One faction is always going to be pro and one faction is always going to be anti, no matter the situation. It’s impossible to cater to, to equalize, all different viewpoints. If you start limiting certain material because a minority faction (not talking about race, just talking about percentages) doesn’t approve or is uncomfortable with, that smacks of censorship to me. And I deplore censorship. I don’t want to live in a Fahrenheit 451 society. But I also don’t understand what the big deal was with Sam and his boyfriend. And, to answer a few of your musings: I bet there is the same uproar if Anderson Cooper or Ellen pictures are hacked; and there is a wonderful movie from the 90s, My Own Private Idaho, that deals with sexuality with a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. I don’t remember that causing an uproar when it came out.

        And the ‘norm’ is what’s shown in media and entertainment because that’s what turns a profit. More people are interested in the ‘norm,’ however putrid that is (see: superhero/action films) than in the less populated subsets. Things just work that way. I thought you were espousing a modest proposal, but now I’m not so sure.

      • historiophiliac - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:08 AM

        That’s the whole point: the commenter was objecting to having to see efforts to include those who are not that “norm,” as if society isn’t awash in hetero messages that he takes for granted. It’s not so much to ask for there to be room for others as well, and that means he’s just going to have to lump it if he’s unhappy having to look at it. Gay people have to look at hetero stuff all the time. I suspect, though, that his upset at this is of a different nature, ie it “grosses him out” — which is about homophobia rather than just objecting to PDA or controversy generally.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        I understand what you’re saying, but, if taken literally, what can we do, as a society, to be all-inclusive?

        Let consenting adults have the exact same rights that other consenting adults have. I know this is too much to ask, but how about people not be so blatantly hypocritical? You want to keep the gov’t out of your life, well keep the gov’t out of people’s bedrooms too! You worry about a radical group of religious nuts wanting to impose their beliefs on our society, well so am I! But that’s too much obviously…

        How about just treat others like you want to be treated?

    • sportsdrenched - Sep 3, 2014 at 5:58 PM

      If you wanted left out of it…why did you even click on this story?

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:46 PM

      Just like how I don’t have to accept that you’re an idiot. Just be an idiot and leave me out of it.

      • normcash - Sep 3, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        Well said!

    • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      We’re agreeing here. My point is that no one, whether in the majority or the minority, should gain special privileges. Where did the government and religion stuff come in? I’m a practical inclusive. Which is why I though Historio’s original post was social satire.

  5. scyankee64 - Sep 3, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    I’m just tired of sports being turned into social programs. I watch sports for entertainment, not for social propaganda.

    • ptfu - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:39 AM

      You must be truly exhausted, since sports have been a reflection/bellwether/ideal of society since at least the ancient Olympics in 776 BC. And never mind Glenn Burke, Henry Aaron, Muhammad Ali, Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, Babe “N***** Lips” Ruth…

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:54 AM

      I’m just tired of sports being turned into social programs

      Treating others as equals = social programming? What’s wrong with you?

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