- Billy Bean came out in 1999, four years after his career ended
- He will lead MLB's training efforts against homophobia, prejudice, sexism
- MLB also posthumously honored its first gay player, Glenn Burke
- Burke came out to teammates during his career, did so publicly later
Billy Bean, a former major league player who announced after his career that he is gay, has been appointed as an "ambassador of inclusion," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday.
It is the latest move as the major sports leagues in the United States ramp up efforts to promote inclusion and fight discrimination.
As a consultant, Bean will work with teams in the majors and in the minor leagues to provide guidance and training against homophobia, prejudice and sexism, MLB said.
"As a young man, I silently walked away from baseball for all the wrong reasons, and today I am truly humbled that the commissioner's office has brought me back to lead the effort on inclusion," Bean said.
A year ago Major League Baseball issued a policy to protect players from discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation. The code is posted in every locker room.
Currently, there are no openly gay major leaguers.
Bean, 50, played six seasons for three different teams: the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the San Diego Padres. He played his last game in 1995.
He told Outsports three years ago that he retired after his played in a game rather than attend his partner's funeral. In 1999, Bean told a columnist for the Miami Herald that he is gay, making him the second former player to come out.
On Tuesday, MLB honored the late Glenn Burke, who was the only major league player to tell teammates during his playing career that he was gay. Three years after his career ended in 1979, he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality in an interview with Inside Sports magazine. He died in 1995.
Lutha Burke attended Tuesday's tribute to her brother. She said her brother would be happy but would wonder about all the fuss "because when you're just busy trying to live a life and be a decent human being, and play the sport as best you can, with all the respect you can, it should be a done deal or an easy deal for anyone."
The National Hockey League, which also has no openly gay players, began teaming with the You Can Play Project, an advocacy group for gays in sports, in 2013. The league has said the partnership will include education and training for fans, players and teams.
The NFL, which saw Michael Sam become the first openly gay player drafted, has met with gay and lesbian groups and had a former player who is gay speak at an owners meeting. The league also has sessions on tolerance during sessions for rookies.
Jason Collins became the first publicly openly gay player in a major U.S. sports league when he took the court for the NBA's Boston Celtics. That league has for years partnered with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.