Starting next year the Mets will pay Bobby Bonilla $1.2 million per season through 2035

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Mike Sielski of the Wall Street Journal notes that starting exactly one year from today the Mets will begin paying Bobby Bonilla an annual salary of $1.2 million … for the next 25 years.
Bonilla is 47 years old, has been retired since 2001, and hasn’t played for the Mets since 1999, but when they bought out the remaining $5.9 million on his contract in January of 2000 they agreed to defer payment at eight percent interest.
And now it’s time to pay the fiddler.
Back then Bonilla was represented by agent Jeff Borris of Beverly Hills Sports Council and the Mets’ general manager was Steve Phillips, and according to agent Steve Gilbert “both sides thought it was a good idea.” And in fairness to Phillips, the Bonilla thing certainly wasn’t his worst idea.
Anyway, as Sielski notes by deferring the money owed to Bonilla the Mets were able to add Mike Hampton, Todd Zeile, and Derek Bell to the 2000 team that won the National League pennant and lost to the Yankees in the World Series, but now instead of simply paying him the $5.9 million in 2000 the team will end up giving Bonilla slightly under $30 million from 2011 to 2035.
Bonilla was at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico this week for the Mets-Marlins series and referred to his unique arrangement as “that beautiful thing.”

Must-Click Link: Remembering Eddie Grant the first major leaguer to die in combat

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As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.

The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.

Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.

Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.