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It's Bobby Bonilla Day, the day each year the Mets pay the former player $1.2 million


Today's July 1, the day each year when the New York Mets must send a $1.2 million check to an All-Star player named Bobby Bonilla. The thing is Bonilla hasn't played baseball in more than 20 years. Kenny Malone and James Sneed from our Planet Money podcast explain.

KENNY MALONE, BYLINE: The story of Bobby Bonilla Day starts in the year 2000, back when the Mets owed their famous player about $6 million.

JAMES SNEED, BYLINE: But rather than just get paid all at once, Bobby Bo agreed to let the Mets keep his money to invest in new players, stadium upgrades, whatever.

MALONE: And in return, the Mets agreed to pay Bobby back, in 35 years, a total of about $30 million.

SNEED: Now, $6 million turning into $30 million seems like a really bad deal for the Mets.

MALONE: Yeah, just ask Mets fans at Citi Field.

SNEED: All right. I'm going to say three words, and I just want to get your reaction.


SNEED: Bobby Bonilla Day.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Worst deal ever.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Are we still paying that guy?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: It's just the day that the Mets are the laughing stock of the MLB.

MALONE: But listen. We are here today to defend the Mets with compound interest, the idea that interest has a way of snowballing.

SNEED: Sure, when you invest money, it earns interest. And then your new, bigger pile of money earns interest. And then that even bigger pile of money earns interest, too.

MALONE: Right. So a dollar today has all this earning potential. When Bobby Bonilla let the Mets keep his $6 million, he was also letting them keep decades of earning potential.

SNEED: And when you look at the Bobby Bonilla Day deal, $6 million in the year 2000 is theoretically the same as that $30 million over time with compounded interest. It pays Bobby Bo back for that lost earning potential.


MALONE: Is this Bobby Bonilla?

BONILLA: Speaking.

SNEED: When we caught up with Bobby Bonilla, he was living in Bradenton, Fla. He now works with the baseball players' union.

MALONE: Do you want us to call you Bobby, Bo, Mr. Bonilla? What's...

BONILLA: No, that's - guys, guys, the only time you have to get my name right is when you're giving me a check.


MALONE: And today is the day Bobby Bonilla gets his $1.2 million check from the Mets.

SNEED: Do you go get a drink? Do you play some golf? Do you celebrate it?

BONILLA: Yeah, well, once I'm done answering every single text message that I get...


BONILLA: ...Which, guys, on that particular day, takes all day. They forget my birthday, which is fine.


BONILLA: No one forgets July 1.

MALONE: No. No, they wouldn't.

BONILLA: No one.

SNEED: Bobby told us what he was thinking back in 2000.

BONILLA: So, you know, one of the fears that a lot of athletes have is losing everything. And it's...


BONILLA: ...A very valid fear. And it's something that keeps all athletes up at night. And I just had a real fear. So I said, you know, let me find a way to put some more money away.

SNEED: If Bobby Bonilla Day is a reminder to other athletes that a dollar today can be turned into way more tomorrow, then Bobby says celebrate.

MALONE: And so every July 1, let us raise a glass to Bobby Bonilla Day and the power of compound interest. Kenny Malone.

SNEED: James Sneed, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIKI SONG, "EVERY SUMMERTIME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

James Sneed
James Sneed began his career at NPR as Planet Money's Winter 2020 intern. Previous to that, Sneed worked at KBOO Community Radio and attended the Transom Story Workshop. His other professional experience includes Open Signal Media Center, KSMoCA and MASS MoCA. Currently, Sneed is an associate producer with Planet Money where he has produced stories about a comic book character from the public domain, the business of Black joy and the Christmas tree market — as well as reported on the racial wealth gap, the NCAA at the Supreme Court and why the New York Mets don't always Mets everything up... necessarily.
Kenny Malone
Kenny Malone is a correspondent for NPR's Planet Money podcast. Before that, he was a reporter for WNYC's Only Human podcast. Before that, he was a reporter for Miami's WLRN. And before that, he was a reporter for his friend T.C.'s homemade newspaper, Neighborhood News.

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