Former MLB outfielder Billy Bean, who also serves as the league’s senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion, has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. As a result of the diagnosis, Major League Baseball launched a Winter Meetings charity auction in honor of Bean and Catalina Villegas, MLB’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in March.
The auction will benefit “Stand Up To Cancer,” and was announced during a press conference on Monday.
Arizona Diamondbacks Torey Lovullo, who has been a friend of Bean since they played together in the mid-1980s, got emotional while he was speaking about Bean.
“I know that it’s very hard for you right now, Billy, and it’s our turn to take care of you,” Lovullo said, per the Associated Press. “You have been the ultimate giver since the day that I’ve known you. So even though I know it’s going to be very tough for you, it’s time for you to sit down and let us love you up and take care of you.”
Bean also spoke at the press conference via a recorded video and revealed that he was diagnosed on Sept. 1. However, the 59-year-old didn’t want to share the unfortunate news with Lovullo since the Diamondbacks were embarking on a potential World Series run.
Bean played for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in six big league seasons spanning from 1987 until 1995. In 1999, Bean became the second MLB player in history to publicly come out as gay.
The auction will run until 10 p.m. ET on Thursday and will include meet and greets with current MLB players such as Mike Trout, Zac Gallen, and Corbin Carroll. Fans can also bid on a chance to have lunch with former Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels at Citizens Bank Park as well as watching a game with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen.