PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There was no grand speech this time, nothing out of the ordinary, because Billy Bean wants this sort of thing to be just the opposite -- ordinary. Major League Baseball's vice president of social responsibility and inclusion, Bean -- an openly gay former big league ballplayer -- simply attended Mets camp on Friday as a guest instructor, and quietly went about his business.
Bean threw batting practice, shagged fly balls and spoke privately to players interested in talking to him, but he didn't go out of his way to announce his presence.
"I wanted to be here because [general manager] Sandy Alderson and [manager] Terry Collins have been so supportive of MLB's inclusion message," Bean said. "So it's a real thrill to be back here. The Mets' platform makes the message bigger."
It was almost exactly one year ago that Bean first suited up for the Mets at the behest of Alderson, who wanted to help promote MLB's message of inclusion. The day went mostly well, with Bean making a presentation to Mets players and staff. But afterward, then-second baseman Daniel Murphy was quoted in local newspapers saying that while he accepted Bean as a person, he did not agree with his "lifestyle."
A year later, Bean says he learned much from that experience.
"Some good comes out of it," Bean said. "Daniel treated me with 100 percent respect. He had a great year last year. He's a great ambassador for baseball. He and I communicated all throughout the year in a very supportive way. … I look at it as an opportunity that I need to be a better example for people, to see that sometimes their differences are not as big as they might have thought prior."
Since that time, MLB and the Mets have only increased their commitment to social issues. The Mets recently announced that they will hold an LGBT Pride Night at Citi Field this summer, which Bean called a "loud and clear" message "to let everybody know that if you love the Mets, the turnstiles are open for you, too."
"Baseball's platform is so big," Bean said. "There are so many great initiatives and I'm just super proud of the fact that the Commissioner's Office and the owners around the league have put resources behind us in an effort to get that message out. Today's a perfect example."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.