Former Padre Billy Bean Turns 49

First things first: Today is not Billy Beane's birthday. A lot of casual fans think that the A's general manager is the same person as former Padres outfielder Billy Bean. Both men get mail meant for the other one, so much so that Bean wrote an article about all the confusion shortly after Moneyball, a movie about Beane, came out. Bean mentions that the two were actually teammates with the AAA Toledo Mudhens back in 1988.

I’ll never forget "that" Billy Beane. We both played in the outfield. I played center, he played left, and believe it or not, we had a right fielder named Pete Rice. Our outfield was coined "Rice and Bean's."

Okay, now that that's out of the way, it's all about just Billy Bean from here on out.

Billy Bean was drafted in the fourth round of the 1986 draft by the Tigers, six picks before Bo Jackson. He made it to Detroit the next April and immediately made his presence known by collecting a record-tying four hits in his first game, a 13-2 win over the visiting Royals. He only got into 25 more games that season, 10 the next, and nine more in 1989 before he was traded to Los Angeles. Bean hit .216 in his time with the Tigers and fared even worse with the Dodgers, hitting .197 over 51 games. He spent all of 1990 through '92 outside of the majors, playing AAA ball in the Angels' system and then in Japan. Ten days before Christmas, 1992, Bean signed with the Padres as a free agent.

Bean had his most success in his second shot at the majors. Not only were his 88 games and 192 PA in 1993 both career highs, he made the most of them. His .260 BA was the highest he'd posted, as were his nine doubles, 34 RBI, and pair of steals. Bean also hit all five of his career home runs that season. 1994 was a step back as he hit .215, got on base at a mere 24.8% of the time, and slugged .267. He only got into four game is 1995, going hitless in seven at bats.

Despite having his best minor league season in 1995, hitting .290 with a career best 15 HR and 77 RBI, Bean retired from the game. After a few years getting his priorities in order, Bean authored an excellent autobiography which was both a bestseller and critically acclaimed. He has also dabbled in acting and now works as a realtor in Miami, where he is active in causes benefiting the gay community, of which he is a member.

Happy birthday, Billy Bean! Here's to many more.

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