Happy July 1st
Today is the day when this country likes to celebrate in style and see an all-American dream come true in living colors.
It’s a bit premature for fireworks on the 4th of July.
Today it is perhaps a celebration of the most famous baseball contract in history.
It’s Bobby Bonilla Day!
Bonilla, the 59-year-old Bronx native who was a six-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger winner and 1997 World Series champion, played 16 years in the major leagues.
So, what is the All-Star most famous for in his celebrated career?
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That salary that keeps on giving.
The Mets will give Bonilla another check for $1,193,248.20 on July 1, just as they have since 2011.
And they will continue to do so until 2035.
Bonilla is 72 years old when he receives the last check.
This day was a parody of everything that has gone wrong in Mets history.
Now Bonilla and the Mets are embracing the contract together.
A NFT project with Bonilla and the company Simple NFT, started by former agent Joshua Kusnick, will sell 1,193 Bonilla NFTs. It includes autographed Bonilla bats, baseball cards, zoom sessions, and next year on Bobby Bonilla Day with Bonilla himself in a suite at Citi Field.
Mets owner Steve Cohen has even talked to Bonilla about the idea of parading around Citi Field in a car.
And the original contact itself, negotiated by former former baseball player Dennis Gilbert, will be on display for a week at the National Sports Collectors Convention on July 27.
It will later be sold by the Goldin Memorabilia Auctions, perhaps worth even more than the $1,193 million payment on July 1.
And it’s all happening because of the Mets’ involvement in Bernie Madoff, leaving former Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon poor in the infamous $64.8 billion Ponzi scheme. They decided that instead of paying Bonilla the $5.9 million he owed in 2000, they would defer to Bonilla at 8% interest.
It has turned into $29.8 million.
The Wilpon family no longer owns the Mets, or is responsible for the Bonilla payments, and will sell the franchise to Cohen for $2.375 billion in 2020.
And if you’re the wealthiest owner of baseball, worth about $15 billion, why not have a little fun with the deferred payments?
“I knew nothing about NFTs until a few months ago,” says Gilbert, now managing partner of Paradigm Gilbert, “but I wanted to make sure Bobby was ready for life. There are more and more retired athletes, no matter how much they made, who are out of money.
“This is an example of having the right type of plan to provide you with an income after you retire. This is what business people do to take care of executives in their company.
“So why not athletes? Why not Bobby Bonilla?
“Actually, it should be a day to be celebrated.”
Follow Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bobby Bonilla Day! Celebrating the Mets’ infamous doomed contract