We've heard from many of the figures on the periphery of Moneyball since the movie hit theaters two weeks ago, but one we hadn't heard from was Billy Bean, the former Tigers, Dodgers, and Padres outfielder who came out of the closet in 1999. Bean, because of that slight difference in names, has often been mistaken for the Athletics' GM, and vice versa.
This week, though, Bean wrote a piece for Outsports on how the pair's been intertwined for many years:
I'll never forget "that" Billy Beane. We both played in the outfield. I played center, he played left, and believe it or not, we had a right fielder named Pete Rice. Our outfield was coined "Rice and Bean's."
Beane struggled terribly through that season in our dismal ballpark on a last place team. On the field he seemed miserable, but in our clubhouse he was The Mayor. He would imitate Axl Rose to perfection when the hit song "Sweet Child of Mine" would play on MTV. He was "the ring leader of anarchy" among the players, and everybody loved him.
I thought our paths might never cross again until about 10 years ago, when the book Moneyball came out. People were always asking if the book was about me. I read the book immediately and enjoyed it, but it was a stinging reminder that I had left baseball way too early. [...]
I remember being told by Randy Smith, who was the general manager of the Padres my first two years there, that I had a future in San Diego's front office whenever I was ready. It was a wonderful compliment, and to this day I often wonder what my life would be like had I chose that path. [...] I gave up that front office opportunity the moment I acknowledged that I was gay. Baseball wasn't ready for that issue 15 years ago.
There's also an anecdote about Billy Beane's dance moves in the full story at Outsports.