8/14/2014 9:45 P.M. ET
LGBTQ youth thrilled to meet Bean, Cashman
New inclusion ambassador partners with Yankees for event at social services agency
By Jamal Collier / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Billy Bean never imagined this as a player.
Roughly 20 years after leaving the game as a player, Bean could never have thought his current role as Major League Baseball's first ambassador for inclusion would exist, let alone believe that he would be partnering with the Yankees for an event that impacted so many people just a month into his tenure.
Bean was joined on Thursday by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and assistant general manager Jean Afterman on a tour of Hetrick-Martin Institute - the nation's oldest and largest social services agency dedicated to helping at-risk lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth - before holding a Q&A with some of the students.
"The fact that they came out to reach out to the LGBT community personally, it was a very awesome thing for them to do," said Kelson Saul, 20. "It gave the LGBT community hope that we can do the same thing that they can do, and we don't have to be scared to follow our passion."
Bean, a former Major League outfielder who in 1999 made public he is gay, said his goals for the job are to use every team as an avenue to reach its community and help promote inclusion in baseball.
The Yankees jumped at the opportunity and set up this event with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which also serves as the home of Harvey Milk High School, a four-year, fully accredited transfer public school. In addition to schooling with an accepting environment, HMI offers students with after school programs, hot meals and various opportunities for students identifying as LGBTQ.
"We are blown away by what you have going on here," Cashman said while speaking to the group.
It was the students who were blown away by the end of the day, which started when Cashman and Afterman passed around their 2009 World Series championship rings. Topics from the Q&A ranged from how each executive got to where he is, with the students looking for some kind of avenue to mirror, and what everyday life was like for each of them.
"It meant a lot for them to see that people in outside agencies do care about the LGBT community, especially youth and young adults," said Wendy Ledesma, HMI's education specialist. "I believe these young people are going to cherish this experience for a very long time; I know I will."
For Bean, seeing what his new job could produce on Thursday made him excited to see the progress that has taken place since he left the game in 1995, inside and out.
"It's my responsibility to integrate a lot of the positive things in our community into baseball, and let people in this room know that they have a future in here if they want it," Bean said.
"The league wants talent, and it doesn't matter what package we're wrapped up in anymore."
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.