Billy Bean, Pride of Santa Ana High and "Out" Major Leaguer, Rolls With Moneyball Billy Beane Confusion

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If you were a Hollywood studio chief, wouldn't you greenlight a movie based on the only major leaguer alive to acknowledge he's gay over one about a general manager who used sabermetric principles to bring undervalued ballplayers to his small-market team that went on to collect wins but no pennants?

Go figure: the seemingly less cinematic Moneyball, which has Brad Pitt playing Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, is in theaters now, while pride of Santa Ana High School Billy Bean is busy explaining to folks he's not Billy Beane.

William Daro "Billy" Bean, who was born in Santa Ana, made his Major League debut with Detroit in 1987 and spent eight seasons in the Bigs with the Tigers, Dodgers and Padres, writes about the confusion on Outsports.com, explaining that he has even had to inform close friends that he is not the subject of the lead character in Moneyball, which is based on Michael Lewis' dense book.

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Billy Bean (left) and Billy Beane. Or is it . . . ?
Adding to the confusion: both were born in Southern California (Beane went to Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego), had dark hair and quarterbacked their high school football teams. You want confusion? Billy Bean and Billy Beane played in the same outfield with the Toledo Mud Hens, Detroit's Triple A club (and Klinger's beloved team on TV's M*A*S*H). Bean was in center and Beane in left. The field announcer should have earned more battle pay than Klinger.

Bean writes:

Beane struggled terribly through that season in our dismal ballpark on a last place team. On the field he seemed miserable, but in our clubhouse he was The Mayor. He would imitate Axl Rose to perfection when the hit song "Sweet Child of Mine" would play on MTV. He was "the ring leader of anarchy" among the players, and everybody loved him.

Later, when Bean joined the Padres, "at every home game people would yell from the stands, 'Hey Billy, remember me from high school?'" He often had to explain while signing autographs after those games that he was not a San Diegan's former classmate. "Sometimes it just seemed easier not to embarrass them, so I'd go along with it," he writes. He still receives Billy Beane baseball cards in the mail from fans seeking autographs.
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