New York Mets

Bobby Bonilla Day Is Here, With a Giant Check for a Mets Star Who Retired 20 Years Ago

Bobby Bonilla Day "celebrates" the New York Mets' annual deferred payment to a player who retired in 2001, and will cash in until 2035

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Happy Bobby Bonilla Day - if you're retired baseball star Bobby Bonilla, that is. If you're a New York Mets owner or executive, maybe not so much.

Thursday marks the team's annual payment to their one-time star, years after he left the game. It's become something of an ironic fan holiday, one the team's new ownership has even acknowledged.

Who is Bobby Bonilla?

Bonilla played professionally from 1986 to 2001, including two stints with the Mets -- 1992 to 1995, and then again in 1999.

A two-time All-Star with the club, he left before the 2000 season, with the team still owing him millions of dollars.

What is Bobby Bonilla Day?

That's where the ersatz holiday comes in to play. The team struck a deal to defer the millions of dollars they owed Bonilla, with payments starting in 2011.

And, to his benefit, continuing through 2035.

Those payments of just under $1.2 million happen on July 1 every year, ergo the name Bobby Bonilla Day.

It's that time of year again — the annual day that the Mets pay $1.19 million to a player who hasn't been with the team in two decades, thanks to one of the strangest deals in sports history. NBC New York's Bruce Beck reports.

The deal worked out spectacularly for Bonilla - he was due about $6 million in 2000, but with interest, by the time the deal ends he will end up having collected nearly $30 million.

Under previous ownership, the Mets did not particularly enjoy observing the day in question. But under new owner Steve Cohen, that may be changing.

Bobby Bonilla Day 2021, a new celebration?

The Mets nodded at Thursday's "occasion" in a cryptic Twitter post Wednesday night. On Thursday, the team made a move to embrace Bobby Bonilla Day, an annual remembrance of the famously unsuccessful contract.

The Mets announced a promotion allowing a fan to book an Airbnb stay for four at Citi Field for $250 that includes use of the team gym and shower. That includes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mets play Atlanta on July 28.

“It’s Bobby Bonilla Day — and for the first time, the New York Mets are inviting fans to take part in the July 1st excitement,” the team announced Thursday. "Today, Bobby is back to work, this time as the host of a stay at Citi Field like never before, available on Airbnb. Bobby and the Mets are inviting four lucky Mets fans to experience a night at the ballpark that will leave them with that bottom of the ninth, walk-off home run feeling.

The team, bought last fall by Cohen from the Wilpon and Katz families. said the fans can request the booking starting at noon on July 8.

Now 58, Bonilla hit .279 with 287 homers and 1,173 RBIs in his career.

“As a born and raised New Yorker and a longtime player in the city, there is a special place in my heart for Mets fans and it’s wonderful to see the faithful back in some green seats in Queens,” Bonilla was quoted as saying. “This year, I’m joining in on the fun, trying on a new glove as an Airbnb host and hopefully giving a few folks the night of their lives at Citi Field.”

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