Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!
Still not quite sure what that is, but you keep hearing everyone talk about it? I’ve got you.
Back in 1999, the Mets (now under different ownership) released third baseman Bobby Bonilla, who was still owed $5.9 million at the time. Hoping to defer that cost, the Mets and Bonilla’s agent got creative, setting up a plan that would pay Bonilla $1,193,248.20 once a year, every year … for 25 years starting in 2011 (gotta love that interest).
According to ESPN, “The agreement called for deferred payments at an 8 percent annual interest rate,” as well. At the time, the Mets ownership didn’t mind interest rate, because a “lucrative investment” with Bernie Madoff (yes, that one) was returning a far higher figure. Combined with the time value of money and boom: $1.19M every year for 25 years.
Now, the day is celebrated as a inside-baseball holiday, as everyone, including Mets fans, likes to have a good laugh at the poor financial decision of Mets ownership.
“It’s amazing, people stop me all the time,” Bonilla, 58, told USA TODAY Sports. “People forget my birthday, but no one forgets July 1. I get more texts and calls that day than any other during the year.”
But, ah … that’s the thing, isn’t it? The Mets are under new ownership now. Billionaire Steve Cohen didn’t make this deal and he also seems to have far better instincts than the previous owners. Instead of calling Bonilla to pay him off (which Cohen could easily afford, but would have been a mistake), he’s the one who got creative.
The Mets have decided to join the masses and celebrate Bobby Bonilla Day. https://t.co/DkbJEMfXyd
— USA TODAY Sports (@usatodaysports) July 1, 2021
Here’s some of the highlights from the article:
Cohen suggested that they have a Bobby Bonilla Day every year at Citi Field, with Bonilla paraded in a car around the field, and presented an oversized check for all of the fans to see.
While the logistics of the ceremony couldn’t be completed in time this year, the Mets instead have decided to host a Bobby Bonilla Day on July 28.
They engaged in a promotion with Airbnb where four fans can watch the Mets play the Atlanta Braves in a VIP suite. The fans can spend the night in the two double beds, have permission to use Mets’ weight room and showers the following morning, and even throw out the first pitch the following day game against Atlanta.
Bonilla, for his part, loves the idea. And you know fans are going to love it too. The whole thing came together kind of late this year, so it will look look different and be more of “a real celebration” in 2022, but this is definitely a great start and the right approach. Good on Cohen for having some fun. And good on Bonilla for being a great sport.