Happy Bobby Bonilla Day to those who celebrate! It’s a day for remembrance, solemnity – and laughing at the New York Mets. Every July 1 since 2011, former MLB slugger Bobby Bonilla receives a check from the Mets for $1.19 million. While the 59-year-old hasn’t played professional baseball since 2001 – and not with New York since 1999 – it’s all a part of the greatest-worst contract of all time.
Bonilla’s career on baseball’s highest stage spans 15 seasons, but it’s the 13th that goes down in history. The slugging journeyman already having played for six teams, Bonilla returned to the Mets in the 1999 offseason. Clashes with coaches, teammates and press created headaches similar to the ballplayer’s first tour in The Big Apple from 1992 until 1995.
Following the ’99 season, releasing Bonilla from his contract meant a $5.9 million buy-out. Instead, both parties agreed to a deal that deferred payment to the three-time all-star. In place of an immediate lump sum buy-out, Bonilla receives $1.19 million every July 1 from 2011 until 2035. Yes – that means Bonilla makes $29.8 million total instead of the $5.9 million owed in 2000.
Bobby Bonilla Day Ingrained in Mets Lore Forever
Why would Mets ownership make such a short-sighted deal? At the time of Bonilla’s release, Mets owner Fred Wilpon had heavy investments with Bernie Madoff. The Wilpon family – under false pretenses thanks to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme – thought the money made sense long-term. Instead, it serves as an annual reminder of the incompetence that continually plagues the franchise.
After purchasing the team from the Wilpons in 2020, billionaire Steve Cohen – now responsible for the payments to Bonilla – celebrates the holiday with the rest of the baseball world.
The lighthearted jab to the previous regime fits the personality and the pocket of the new owner, but also plays to the home crowd much better with a three game lead in the NL East on this July 1. As for plans to remove the day from the calendar before 2035, Action Report’s Darren Rovell says Cohen isn’t interested: