From major league baseball’s only openly gay former player—and now its first-ever Ambassador for Inclusion—the intimate chronicle of a man who, in the prime of his career, had to make a terrible choice between his love of the game and the love of his life
More than ten years after its original publication, Going the Other Way remains deeply moving, and more timely than ever.
By virtue of a relentless work ethic, exceptional multi-sport talent, and a quick left-handed swing, Billy Bean made it to the majors, where he played from 1987 to 1995—an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres. But as a gay man in the brutally anti-gay world of baseball, closeted to teammates and family, Bean found himself unable to reconcile two worlds that he felt to be mutually exclusive. At the young age of 31, in the prime of his career, even as he solidified his role as a major-league utility player, Bean walked away from the game that was both his calling and his livelihood.
At once heartbreaking and farcical, ruminative and uncensored, this unprecedented memoir points the way toward a more perfect game, one in which all players can pursue their athletic dreams free of prejudice and discrimination.
Bean, who was an outfielder for teams including the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres from 1987 to 1995, was the antithesis of the stereotypical jock: he was valedictorian of his high school; he went to a Catholic university; talk of sexual exploits made him uncomfortable; and he became involved with a woman who"fit the image he created" about the proper partner for a"baseball star." Though he was happy with Anna,"it dawned on me that I didn't share my teammates' intense attraction to the opposite sex. There was always something missing, and I felt a restlessness I couldn't quite define or shake. At the same time, I couldn't fathom the alternative." Bean went on to play in the major leagues, although, after modest initial successes, he drifted in and out of the minors. Along the way, he married Anna, in spite of his concerns about his sexual identity:"I hoped that by making my marriage a priority, I could get beyond the 'gay thing.'" He didn't. He and Anna divorced, and Bean set up house with his first companion until the man died of AIDS. Bean didn't attend the funeral because he didn't want to miss a game or explain his relationship. Not long after, Bean was called back to the major leagues. It was only then, as he prepared to retire from baseball, that he told his parents that he was gay. With relatively few coming-out tales from the baseball world, this book's novelty will attract some readers. It is intelligently written and Bean's concerns about his sexuality are well conveyed. On the other hand, Bean, who is now happily living and working with his partner in Miami Beach, hasn't played for nearly eight years; the sex lives of other more prominent players have been widely discussed in the press; and Bean's revelations are not nearly as controversial as they might have been some years ago. While the book does offer an interesting portrait of the less glamorous side of baseball, particularly the humiliation of being sent to the minor leagues, its appeal may be somewhat limited.