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Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life In and Out of Major League Baseball Paperback – March 24, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

During 10 years with the Tigers, Dodgers, and Padres, Bean was a good player but no star. He would have faded into obscurity except for his casual disclosure three years after retirement that he is gay. Especially because the ill-starred Glenn Burke died in 1995, the revelation made Bean the out baseball player. How he, the only child of an abandoned working-class mom, arrived at that status is the story he tells with oral immediacy and winning personality in this memoir. Sports claimed him long before homosexuality did, and his love of baseball gives the book its powerful charm. He realized his homosexuality in adulthood and came to see baseball's milieu as oppressive only after his first lover died and he felt obliged not to talk about his loss. If he now advocates dispelling homophobia in baseball and athletics generally, he doesn't rail against old teammates and managers. His testimony is as much a tribute to baseball as it is an argument for accepting gays, and better for that. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (March 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569244618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569244616
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,118,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Christopher M. MacNeil on April 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
At its inception, "Going the Other Way ..." could easily have been little more than a professional athlete's bio of protecting his homosexuality in what remains one of the sexuality's near-hallowed taboo, and even going that far would be courageous. But ex-baseball player Billy Bean takes his private story further by not only coming out publicly but by submitting the subtle question if sexual orientation really has anything to do with a person's worth as a family member, friend and working in whatever profession. In doing so, Bean's story is a lesson not only in coming to terms privately but also in being accepted by rendering impotent the social tendency to over-use labels like straight, gay and bi. Until Bean made good his dream to play major league baseball, his story was essentially non-descript: a loving family supporting his athletic ambition, a straight A student, girlfriends, marriage to a breathtakingly beautiful woman. Bean's "wholesome" story becomes unique only when he actually makes the big leagues but has to stay in his closet to avoid the potential multi-dimensional issues associated with coming out. Remarkably, Bean's is both a baseball and coming-to-terms book, and he manages further to posit the thought that sexual orientation may actually have little to nothing to do with any person's total worth. Bean also goes into some detail about his gay sexual experiences and concludes he was bassically "lucky" to have dodged the fatal bullet of AIDS. Still, that portion of his narrative poses the thought that public discussion about homosexuality and AIDS, even by the anti-gay faction, may actually be productive in blunting activity that risks the disease.Read more ›
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Shane B. on May 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw an ad for this book, my eyes swept right over it without a pause. I'd never heard of Billy Bean, and know little about baseball (more of a hockey fan), so it really didn't grab my attention. However, a couple days later I saw that he was signing his book at the local gay bookstore, so thought I'd pop in to see what the big deal was . . . and grab a copy just in case. I was not disappointed.
In "Going the Other Way," Billy Bean takes you through his sports career, from humble beginnings as a kid in several sports (like most of us) to the ups and downs of a major-league career in baseball. The first half of the book does not deal much with his sexual orientation, but you see hints of his inner struggle. Later on, Billy explains the fear, shame, questioning, and hiding that most gay men face at some time in their lives. He is very honest about the difficulties he faced as he attempted to deny being gay, later tried to live two different lives, and finally gave up sports to find love and happiness. And even then his struggles were not over.
I wish that everyone could get to meet Billy Bean, hear him read his story, and just listen to him for a short while. From the short bit I saw in person, the honesty and feeling in the book are truly reflected in the author himself. His is a story that both straights and gays, athletes and non-athletes can enjoy. And it's a story that needs to be told.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "eastsidewa" on May 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Billy Bean is pretty brave. Even after he left the Bigs, he still cared about kids, baseball and THE GAME. Sure he could have named names and outed some big leaguers who were better than him, made more money and got endorsements but that's not his style. He was a lunch bucket type player. No errors, very few HR's always hustling and taking extra BP each day. He would gladly take bullets for the team (sacrifice fly etc.) and kept his mouth shut about goings on by married players. He played the fundamentals well. He disguised lots of things like his affection towards men. He even married. There were probably more sexual escapades while he played with men than he lets on in the book. The few listed are tantilizing. In the end he did the right thing. He told the truth. He did it because he was proud of his accomplishments and he wanted to make it easier for the next guy. Or the next kid playing High School baseball. Imagine how much better a player he could have been if his mind wasn't always trying to cover up a secret. Concentration is 80% of game (Yogi says baseball is 90% more than half mental-it's also ironic that Billy Bean's book is in the Sports Section next to Yogi Berra's book). Think of how much fun he could have had. Billy Bean is a small time modern day hero in a big time world. No it's not earth shattering journalism but a good story and a good read. Conflict make good journalism. It's a good sports book to buy and read and wonder-how many Billy Bean's are still out there between the lines every day. Spittin tobacco, cussing Umpires and acting macho. And how much better of a player, these closeted players would be if they could feel comfortable with their feelings if baseball was open and friendly to all.Read more ›
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Billy's generation lost some of its best to AIDS, and as he explains in his book he only escaped it by sheer luck. Perhaps it was for the best that the social stigma against homosexuality was powerful in the 80s, before men learned how deadly unprotected sex could be. At least a few, like Billy, had less exposure than they would have had if sex between males were as accepted as it is today.
Then again, without the anti-gay attitudes of late-20th century America, perhaps the disease -- and the means to avoid it -- would have been discovered more quickly, and lives would have been spared. This is a debate about which I've not reached a conclusion.
It is safe to conclude, however, that Billy's book will do a lot of good if it gets the readership it deserves. The daguerreotype of an All American, Billy grew up in what would ordinarily be considered a challenging family situation to become everyone's hometown favorite. He subjugated his sexual desires to his compulsion to please in a manner rare among straight and gay alike. That he felt the need to stay in the closet as long as he did is not surprising. The number of men of his generation and older locked in even tighter closets would surprise a lot of people.
What is surprising is the sympathy Billy and his co-author, Chris Bull, generate from simply telling the facts of Billy's life. Billy assiduously avoids portraying himself as a victim -- he got to live out his childhood dream for more than a decade, he enjoyed love, and he remains today surrounded by more love than ever before. Yet the facts in "Going the Other Way" show that he was, indeed, the victim of anti-gay bias, in countless ways and for his entire baseball career.
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