July 1st is not a date that holds much value for most people. To a select few, however, this anonymous day is known by a different moniker – “Bobby Bonilla Day”, in memory of the man who signed possibly the most ludicrous (and lucrative) sports contract of all time. July 1st will be remembered as Bobby Bonilla Day for another 15 years, as Bobby is paid for his services to the New York Mets, an American baseball team. The really crazy part? Bonilla hasn’t played baseball since 2001.
Roberto Martin Antonio Bonilla did not have an easy ride into professional baseball. He was not selected during the 1981 draft, only reaching the big leagues after being scouted in Europe. As he trained with his first team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, a broken leg from a collision with a teammate delayed his progress. On top of this, he proved highly error-prone when he did play, committing 67 errors in 2 seasons. An inspired move from the Pirates’ coach then changed Bonilla’s fortunes: having shifted to right field, Bonilla combined with the legendary Barry Bonds to help the Pirates to divisional titles for 2 seasons. These newfound talents at right field piqued the interest of the New York Mets, who acquired the 4-time All-Star in 1991. Bonilla soon became the highest paid player in baseball, but his production declined, resulting in him becoming somewhat of a journeyman in the league.