Bobby Bonilla Day has become a sacred holiday for beleaguered Mets fans, a day that encompasses everything infuriating, laughable and ultimately lovable about the team. Every year on July 1st, starting in 2011 and running through 2035, the former Mets player receives a check for $1,193,248.20 from the team as part of a deferred deal he made with the club in 2000. To put that into perspective, a guy who hasn't played baseball since 2001 is making more this year than many current Mets players, including Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil.
This all came to be because back in 2000, the Mets wanted to defer the $5.9 million dollars owed to Bonilla for a decade; they agreed to make annual payments of nearly $1.2 million for 25 years starting July 1st, 2011. At the time, the Mets ownership was heavily invested with Bernie Madoff and expecting much-ballyhooed double-digit returns, which obviously did not work out. So this deal included a negotiated 8% interest, which accounts for how much more money he's going to make overall; MarketWatch calls it a testament to "the beauty of compound interest."
The team has mostly been mocked for the deal in the years since, though some fans have made the case that everything ultimately worked out in the end: by freeing up that money in 2000, the team was able to make some splashy signings that season, including Mike Hampton, who helped lead the team to a pennant that year (their first since 1986). Although Hampton left the team a year later, the Mets got a compensatory draft pick as a result which they used to draft the beloved, now-retired franchise player David Wright.
Throughout all these years, the team has seemed embarrassed by the deal and the subsequent public mockery—but no more! For the first time in a decade, the Mets are embracing the unofficial holiday, which has understandably become Bonilla's favorite day of the year.
“It’s amazing, people stop me all the time,’’ Bonilla told USA Today. “People forget my birthday, but no one forgets July 1. I get more texts and calls that day than any other during the year.’’
According to USA Today, new owner Steve Cohen had suggested the team celebrate 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 that didn't come together in time this year, the club is partnering with Airbnb to host a Bobby Bonilla Day on July 28th.
In addition, four fans will get to sleepover in the park in a VIP suite and watch both a day and night game. The fee is $250, with the first party of four to sign up on July 8th. You can get more info about that here.
If you want a sneak peak at what that'll look like, just check out the perfect photo below.