The New York Mets welcomed openly gay Billy Bean to their Major League Baseball spring training session on Tuesday, and infielder Daniel Murphy had a few comments about him.
According to David Brown of CBS Sports, Murphy, who describes himself as a devout Christian, elaborated on Bean. The MLB named Bean as the league's first "ambassador of inclusion," providing guidance and training to players and others in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
"I disagree with his lifestyle," Murphy said. "I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual."
Despite his unwavering beliefs on homosexuality, Murphy left open the possibility of getting to know Bean in a professional manner.
"I don't think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him," Murphy said. "That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent."
According to Brown, the Mets infielder saw an opportunity for a conversation and a chance to go beyond stereotyping, noting that the issue was in "uncharted territory." He also tried to tackle the perception that Christian athletes may have some hostility toward gay players.
"Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven't been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality," Murphy said. "We love the people. We disagree about the lifestyle. That's the way I would describe it for me."
Murphy then elaborated on other things he needs to work on in his walk with God, most notably his pride.
"I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn't mean I'm just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door," Murphy said. "That's not love. That's not love at all."
Bean reacted to Murphy's comments in a column penned for MLB.com. He argued that the concept of inclusion applied to everyone, even those who disagreed with the message.
"When I took this job at MLB, I knew it was going to take time for many to embrace my message of inclusion," Bean wrote. "Expecting everyone to be supportive right away is simply not realistic."
Bean did have "tremendous admiration and respect" for Murphy outside the baseball diamond.
"Just last year, he made the decision to miss Opening Day for the birth of his son, and was criticized by some members of the New York media for this choice," Bean wrote. "Murphy deserved to be commended for putting his family first and that decision -- which led to an invitation to speak at the White House -- showed he's not afraid to stand up for what he believes in."
Bean also genuinely appreciated the comments that Murphy made about him.
"He was brave to share his feelings, and it made me want to work harder and be a better example that someday might allow him to view things from my perspective, if only for just a moment," Bean wrote.
Bean emphasized that there is no bad blood between him and the devout Christian.
"I respect him, and I want everyone to know that he was respectful of me," Bean wrote of Murphy. "We have baseball in common, and for now, that might be the only thing. But it's a start."
Bean ended his column in a hopeful tone, adding that "inclusion means everyone, plain and simple." He cited the history of Jackie Robinson, who helped integrate the MLB back in 1947 and break down racial barriers in the process.
"Daniel is part of that group. A Major League clubhouse is now one of the most diverse places in sports," Bean wrote. "It wasn't always that way, but we can thank No. 42 for that. So in [Robinson's] honor, with a little patience, compassion and hard work, we'll get there."