Billy Bean heard the news shortly after he awoke Sunday. And, in processing the details about an act of terror and hate in which 50 people were killed and 53 were wounded by a single shooter in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, he was sickened.Bean is Major
Billy Bean heard the news shortly after he awoke Sunday. And, in processing the details about an act of terror and hate in which 50 people were killed and 53 were wounded by a single shooter in an LGBT nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, he was sickened.
Bean is Major League Baseball's vice president of social responsibility and inclusion. He goes around the country telling the story of how he played his entire baseball career in the closet, afraid of how he'd be received if he revealed his sexual orientation.
Bean's job now is to break down barriers, to move this sport and -- by extension -- this country, to a better place. So for him, to see the LGBT community he works so hard to support targeted in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history was heartbreaking.
There is a difference, however, between being heartbroken and being disheartened.
"We are all connected to this crime in a terrible way," Bean said. "This makes me want to work harder to help continue to elevate the message that baseball has allowed us to pass along to our players and our employees.
"Today's a day to look around and start to see the things we have in common as opposed to the things that we don't."
Baseball will continue to spread Bean's message. He was, in fact, already scheduled to be at Night OUT at Nationals Park on Tuesday night and LGBT Pride Night at Tropicana Field on Friday night. Those events -- especially the one at the Rays' home ballpark, given its proximity to Orlando -- will take on added gravity given what happened this weekend.
"I'm certain this type of crime was targeted because June has been designated as Pride Month for the LGBT community," Bean said. "I'm sick that's something we're going to have to discuss. But I feel like it's an opportunity to be supportive of that community."
Every Major League game Sunday was preceded by a moment of silence for the Orlando victims, and MLB clubs will fly U.S. flags at half-staff until sunset on Thursday.
"I'm still shocked," said Royals catcher Drew Butera, who grew up and still lives in Orlando. "You never want to see that type of stuff happen anywhere, especially in your hometown. It's sad. Those were innocent people."
At The Trop, the Rays defeated the Astros, 5-0, but manager Kevin Cash, who hails from Tampa, wasn't in a celebratory mood.
"We've got a lot of support over there," Cash said, referring to Orlando. "We're thinking about them very much. That's the most important thing of the day."
The Rays are working with OneBlood to set up a blood drive to help the survivors.
"I can't believe this actually happened," said Rays right-hander Ryan Garton, who also hails from Tampa. "It's like a nightmare. You wake up and hear this kind of news. It's definitely sad. I still have people I have to talk to to make sure they're OK."
The incident had Pirates star Andrew McCutchen, from nearby Fort Meade, Fla., putting recent struggles in proper perspective.
"Why would I stress over an 0-for-4?" McCutchen asked. "Why would I stress so bad over a loss? I'm not going to. I'm going to get up, get ready, thank God that I'm alive, show up and be grateful and thankful that I'm here. Even if I'm 0-for-4 or 1-for-20, I'm thankful that I'm here and that I have the opportunity to go out and perform and just try to get out of it."
Major League games were being played at the same time President Obama addressed the nation -- the 15th time this president has held a news conference to comment on a mass shooting in America. Obama noted that this was "an especially heartbreaking day for our friends -- our fellow Americans -- who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
"I'm very proud that baseball made a gesture today to have a moment of silence at the ballparks," Bean said. "And President Obama's direct and specific description of the type of crime that was committed was vitally important. For the LGBT community to have such support in light of such a hateful, hateful crime is a sign of all the work that has happened. It just makes me sad to think there are people that just hate each other. It also makes us realize how were are all connected. There were victims [Sunday] that were not biologically or genetically part of the LGBT community but were close friends or family members from love."
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.