Happy Bobby Bonilla Day

A man wearing a hat
Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images

For baseball fans around the country, this is one of the strangest, yet greatest days of the year.

Back in 1991, the New Mets signed All-Star third baseman Bobby Bonilla to a then record 5-year, $29 million dollar contract (crazy that was the biggest, given Mike Trout’s $426.5 Million dollar extension signed a few years ago).

He played for about 3 seasons, was traded to the Florida Marlins, where he won a World Series, before being traded back to the Mets in 1997, where he played until he was released in 2000.

Here’s where the problems started.

The Mets we’re still on the hook for his $5.9 million dollar contract that year and were looking for a way to lessen the hit. They were under the impression the organization was about to make itself quite a bit of money because the owners had invested a sizable amount with a then red-hot investor named Bernie Madoff.

Yep, that Bernie Madoff. The gold standard of Ponzi schemes Bernie Madoff.

The Mets agreed to defer Bobby’s salary for 10 years with 8% interest until beginning 25 successive years of payments from 2011 to 2035, assuming they would make a fortune investing with Bernie before payouts began and would then be returning only a fraction of the profits to pay off the contract.

Turns out Bobby is one hell of a businessman, because that $5.9 million grew to $29.8 million by 2011 and the Ponzi scheme obviously fell apart, leaving the Mets on the hook for a $1.19 million payment due to Mr. Bobby Bonilla on July 1st every year until the man turns 72.

The day has become a part of the weird history of baseball and makes me smile every time someone mentions it.

Cheers to you, Bobby.

And to the Mets… Come on man, what were you thinking?

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock