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Frtiz Peterson talks about his famous wife swap with Mike Kekich

Jan 28, 2013, 10:31 AM EDT

Fritz Peterson

Actually, it was a husband swap. The wives each stayed with their kids and dogs and houses and stuff. It was Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich who were truly exchanged. This, the most 1970s story in all of baseball, was announced forty years ago this spring.

The Palm Beach Post caught up with Fritz Peterson over the weekend and he tells the longest first person account of the infamous swap I’ve yet to hear.  Making it even more of a 1970s story: a key event took place at a Steak and Ale restaurant. I can only assume that many 7 and 7s were consumed.

I’ve always loved this bit of weirdness, but one part of it does bug me.  The swap has so subsumed the story of Peterson and Kekich that almost no one realizes how good a pitcher Peterson was there for a few years. He had the misfortune of playing for the Lost Years Yankees, coming up in 1966 and starting for them through 1973, was always solid and occasionally great. In 1969 he won 17 games for an 80-81 Yankees club while posting a 2.55 ERA and only walked 43 guys in 272 innings. In 1971 he only walked 42 in 274 innings.

Nice pitcher, even if to most folks he’s better known as the answer to a trivia question.

  1. koufaxmitzvah - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Hippies!

  2. jm91rs - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    It seems crazy but I guess I can understand falling in love with another man’s wife, and that would sure be convenient if he fell in love with yours, but I can’t understand the kids. They just left their real kids behind? How terrible would that feel to lose your dad like that?

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      “What about the kids?”, the frequent cry rings again. They were probably more devastated by the implementation of the DH, meaning their dads couldn’t come to the plate any longer. Ron Blomberg, the root of all evil.

  3. paperlions - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Who could leave their dog behind?

    • historiophiliac - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      My ex.

      • indaburg - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        Asshole.

      • historiophiliac - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        I won. I got to keep the dog. I had 16 years of fabulous with her. She walked right up to a bear once and could climb a fence like a cat. There was no way I was giving her up.

      • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        A dog who would walk right up to a bear is a loser, bigtime. On the other hand, a late wife with plenty of life insurance who would walk right up to a bear is a priceless investment.

      • indaburg - Jan 28, 2013 at 4:29 PM

        She sounds like she was a great dog. She reminds me of an athletic dachshund I once had. He climbed trees and feared no animal.

        I would never trust a man who would abandon his dog.

      • badintent - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:31 AM

        @old Gator
        once again, you make me laugh till I split. I’m starting to look like a croc. Please don’t hunt me, I already have my wife chasing me with her phillpino machete.

    • Alex K - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Someone who doesn’t care for dogs and only got one for their wife/kids. Not everyone loves animals.

  4. kiwicricket - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Something in the water around 70′

    *Describing the scene before heading into the other mans bedroom…

    Ronnie Wood: Are we really going to do this?
    George Harrison: See you in court.

  5. losangelesfan - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    This would make a great movie.

    • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      It almost did, but somehow it never got made. Anyone know the story behind that? I have heard rumors but never read anything substantive about what went down behind the lens.

  6. stackers1 - Jan 28, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I first became a Yankee fan in the early 70’s when the team was horrific. The only shining lights were Mel Stottlemyer & Peterson on the pitching staff & Bobby Murcer & Thurman Munson with the bats. I was too young to really understand what Peterson & Kekich had done, but even as an 9 year old in 1972, I thought it was weird. Glad it worked out for Fritz anyway.

    BTW – I know that photo of Peterson was his baseball card one year, because I had it.

    • Old Gator - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Didn’t Steinbrenner try to trade Munson’s contract to the Pirates for the fishing rights to Roberto Clemente?

  7. mybrunoblog - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    In that weird picture Peterson looks like Christopher Reeves from the movie “Somewhere in Time” after he looked at the 1979 penny.

  8. anxovies - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    I tried to swap my wife with a friend but he just wouldn’t part with that bass boat.

  9. badintent - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    That story just gets stranger with time. I heard Kekich’s new wife dumped him in less than a year. the Yankee brass was horified and traded Mike quick. Joe Namath was jealous a little for the boys stealing his headlines with the ladies , and as for the Mick , he said he and Billy drank 7 and 7s many times but didnt’ exchange wifes once, only groupies, girlfriends and bottles

  10. edthlion - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Was there a worse pitcher than Mickey Kekich? And Fritz’s wife stayed with him while Kekich’s left Fritzy. Fritz was a great pitcher. They traded him to Cleveland over that. What a bunch of dumbasses.

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