The New York Mets under new owner Steven Cohen are embracing “Bobby Bonilla Day,” an annual remembrance of a famously unsuccessful contract.
A promotion announced Thursday allows a fan to book an Airbnb stay for four at Citi Field for $250 that includes use of the team gym and shower and includes throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mets play the Atlanta Braves on July 28.
The team, bought last fall by Cohen from the Wilpon and Katz families, said fans can request the booking, which is under the heading “Private room hosted by Bobby,” starting at noon on July 8 on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Bonilla was released by the Mets in January 2000 after hitting .160 with four home runs and 18 RBIs the previous season, when a knee injury limited him to 119 at-bats. He had two seasons left on his contract at $5.9 million, and the Mets agreed to defer his salary at 8% interest and make 25 equal payments of $1,193,248.20 each July 1 from 2011 to 2035, a total of $29,831,205.
Fans have lampooned the decision ever since as folly but, after he bought the team last year, Cohen tweeted his interest in the team celebrating “Bobby Bonilla Day” each year in which Bonilla would be given an oversized check and driven for a lap around the stadium.
Let’s take a vote .How about we have a Bobby Bonilla day every year .Hand him an oversized check and drive a lap around the stadium.Could be fun
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 20, 2020
USA Today Sports reported that the arrangements couldn’t be worked out in time to hold such an event this year, so the team came up with this Airbnb promotion instead.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that Steve and the Mets are doing,” Bonilla told USA Today Sports. “Steve reached out to me, which was pretty cool. I’ve known Mr. Cohen for quite a while. We’ve had dinner together in Greenwich, Connecticut. We have a good relationship.
“We may do the other things at some point in time, but they came up with this idea, which I think is a wonderful promotion.”
Now 58, Bonilla was a six-time All-Star from 1986 to 2001. He hit .279 with 287 homers and 1,173 RBIs.
“People forget my birthday, but no one forgets July 1. I get more texts and calls that day than any other during the year,” Bonilla told USA Today Sports.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.