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Bean, Billy (b. 1964)  
 
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Former baseball player and current television personality, Billy Bean was closeted throughout his major league career but has since become a proud advocate for glbtq rights.

William Daro Bean is the son of high-school classmates Linda Robertson and William Joseph Bean, who married in haste upon learning that she was pregnant. The Bean family arranged the wedding, which was held in a mortuary in Santa Ana, California. Even before Billy Bean's birth on May 11, 1964, his paternal grandmother, Carmela Bean, a devout convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, denied his mother entry into her home because the young woman was not of her faith.

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When Bean's parents had been married for only about a year, his grandmother urged his father to undertake a two-year Mormon mission. He did so, leaving his wife to fend for herself and their child. The couple subsequently divorced, and Bean's father disappeared from his life.

When Bean was six years old, his mother remarried, but the union lasted only a year. Several years later, however, she entered into a happy and enduring marriage with police sergeant Ed Kovac. Bean, dressed in a rented white tuxedo, accompanied her down the aisle at the ceremony.

Bean was always an avid sports fan and began playing baseball early on. In his Little League days he was usually the smallest player on the team, but he was dedicated and worked hard to hone his skills, traits that were characteristic of him throughout his sports career.

By the time he was in high school, he had developed into a strong athlete, quarterbacking the football team and playing in the outfield for the baseball team that won the state championship in 1982, his senior year.

Because of his combination of athletic abilities and academic achievement, Bean received scholarship offers from a number of universities. After a round of campus visits, he and his parents decided upon Loyola Marymount University, a Jesuit institution in Los Angeles.

Bean quickly made friends there, becoming especially close to his freshman-year roommate and teammate Tim Layana, a pitcher. He was, however, not completely comfortable around teammates who continually boasted of their prowess with women. Bean "found [himself] curiously detached from this behavior, and . . . always felt like an intruder in their erotic world."

Bean was a solid performer on the field, named to the Division I All-America team in his junior year and attracting the attention of professional scouts. He was projected as a second- or third-round prospect until he tore a quadriceps muscle during a game. The injury dropped him to a middle-round pick, chosen by the Yankees. The Mets drafted Layana, but their coach, Dave Snow, persuaded both of them to return for their senior year in order to complete their degree programs. He thought that they would have a good chance of playing in the College World Series.

Coach Snow arranged for Bean and Layana to play minor-league baseball with the Fairbanks Goldpanners of the Alaska League. After a slow start due to his injury, Bean made a strong performance and was chosen as the Goldpanners' player of the year.

As Coach Snow had predicted, the Marymount team went to the College World Series the next year but was eventually eliminated by the Arizona team that went on to win the 1986 championship. Bean's fine showing in his senior year had made him a strong professional prospect again, though, and he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the third round.

Although Bean had never done much dating, during his last year at Marymount, he fell in love with fellow student Anna Maria Amato, whom he married in 1989.

Meanwhile, Bean had begun his professional baseball career. Assigned to the Tigers' triple-A club, the Toledo Mud Hens, after spring training in 1987, Bean was called up to Detroit less than a month into the season. In his first appearance at storied Tiger Stadium he batted lead-off and went four for six, tying the major-league record for most hits by a player in his first game. After the Tigers' 13 to 3 victory, manager Sparky Anderson gave Bean the official line-up card and a number of teammates made a point of stopping to talk with him. "They knew it was a special day I'd never forget," recalled Bean.

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Billy Bean on the set of the television program I've Got A Secret in 2006.
  
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