During Spring Training in 1973, Yankees’ left-handers (go figure) Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich announced that they had traded their hot baseball wives.
Peterson was one of the best control pitchers of all time. He led the American League in strikeout to walk ratio in 1969 and 1970. In ’70, Peterson was 20-11 and named to the all-star team. Peterson’s 2.52 ERA is the lowest in the history of Yankee Stadium for a starting pitcher. With the Yankees moving to a new Yankee stadium in 2009, that’s a mark that will live forever.
Peterson and Kekich were the best of friends since becoming Yankee teammates. They both lived in Tenafly, New Jersey which is just south of the George Washington Bridge. In 1972, in an era known for swingers dating (recalled by this summer’s TV debut of Swingtown on CBS), the two southpaws began experimenting with more than just their repertoire of pitches.
“We didn’t trade wives, we traded lives,” said Kekich. No doubt. The two players moved into the other’s homes and essentially took on the kids and the dogs of their best friend’s.
In Cincinnati or Milwaukee, this was big news, but in New York in the era of the swinger, it simply wasn’t that big of a deal. “We may have to cancel family day,” cracked Lee MacPhail, general manager of the Yankees.
Fantasy Baseball Effects of Peterson-Kekich Trade
Peterson was routinely booed on the road after the trade and Kekich never did find the stuff he had early in his career. In fact, Kekich was 2-5, 7.48, after the announcement of the wife-swap.
“My whole career went into a black hole,” said Kekich.
Peterson ended up with a 133-131 career mark. He also ended up with a life partner. Fritz and Susanne Kekich are still married and have had four children together. Ironically, Peterson is now an evangelist.
Kekich got the short end of the trade. His relationship with Marilyn Peterson soured along with his pitching ability and they never did get married and were not together just two years later.