When I was just 5-years-old, I attended the National Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time. My father was excited to take me, and I was all ready to get some baseball knowledge. After all, I had been going to baseball games ever since I was born, and I wanted to see what was so special about this museum in Cooperstown.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to give the famous museum the attention that it deserved. All I seemed to be concerned about was baseball cards. I was looking for my favorite player’s card, and once I found him, I would not be satisfied unless I had it.
Who was it? He was the man who signed as a free agent with the Mets on Dec. 2, 2001. His first three names are Roberto Martin Antonio, and here’s the giveaway. His last name is Bonilla.
When I look at the numbers, I am not so sure what I found so astounding about the guy. In his first season with the Mets, he batted just .249. As the years went on with the Mets, Bonilla’s numbers got slightly better. 1993 was probably hit best season with the Mets, when he hit .265, while crushing 34 homers and driving in 87 RBI.
After just three full seasons with the club, the Mets decided Bonilla had worn out his welcome during the 1995 season. He was traded, along with Jimmy Williams, to the Baltimore Orioles for Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa.
Buford played center field for a while, and Ochoa was a blue chip prospect that never amounted to anything more than a reserve at the major league level. One thing was for sure. I was crushed by the trade, but when I saw how his career played out, I was quick to forgive Mets’ management.
A little more than three years later, Bonilla was back. When you get acquired in a trade in which Mel Rojas is going the other way, your career is definitely on a down turn. That was definitely the case with Bonilla, who hit a whopping .160 in 60 at-bats with the major league club in 1999. The Braves and Cardinals would give Bonilla a whirl in his age 37 and 38 seasons, but the former Met was done, and his career was fizzled out.
A lot of people resent what Bonilla was to the Mets. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he was on that Marlins’ world championship team in 1997. Either way, Bobby Bonilla was certainly an interesting character, and he is not a guy I will soon forget.