8 points about Fritz Peterson

  • Fritz Peterson was a pretty good major league pitcher but when he is mentioned he is remembered first and foremost for one thing. In the spring of 1973 Peterson and fellow Yankees pitcher Mike Kekich announced that they had made one of the most unique and controversial trades in major league history- they had traded families.  Fritz married Kekich’s wife and Kekich married Fritz’s wife. At the time this was a huge story and controversial. The Yankees of course had to do something about this- and although there was no problem between Peterson and Kekich- in June Kekich was traded. How did the trade work out? Peterson and the former Susanne Kekich remain together 45 years later, the relationship between Mike Kekich and the former Marilyn Peterson didn’t last very long.  A few years ago there were plans to make a movie on this called “The Trade”- Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are involved in the film.
  • Peterson as a pitcher was noted as being a control pitcher. For 5 seasons in a row he led the American League in fewest walks given up per 9 innings.  His career stats- 133 wins 131 losses with a 3.30 ERA. In 1218.1 innings pitched he gave up almost exactly a hit an inning 1217 hits. He wasn’t a power pitcher 1015 strikeouts and only 426 bases on balls given up which is 1.7 walks per 9 innings.
  • 6’0 185 he was a switch hitter who threw left handed. He spent most of his career with the New York Yankees- 1966 to April 1974 when he was traded to Cleveland [more about that trade later } he was with the Indians 1974-76 before finishing up with the Texas Rangers for a few games in 1976.
  • As a youth Peterson was a promising hockey player but was better at baseball- he was signed by the New York Yankees by one of their famous scouts  Lou Maguolo who had signed over forty players who became major league players- including Whitey Herzog and Ball Four author Jim Bouton.
  • Peterson’s best season was 1970 when he won 20 lost 11 with a 2.90 ERA and made the American League All-Star team.
  • His career seemed to go downhill after the wife swapping with Kekich in 1973. He was booed around the league and went 8-15 that season with a 3.95 ERA. He would be out of baseball at age 34.
  • The other famous trade other than the Wife Swap with Kekich that he was involved in was the April 1974 trade which sent four pitchers from the Yankees to the Indians- Peterson, Fred Beene, Tom Buskey and Steve Kline for first baseman Chris Chambliss, pitchers Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw. Chambliss would go on to have an outstanding career with the Yankees–none of the pitchers the Indians acquired worked out. Another bad 1970’s Indians trade.
  • In Jim Bouton’s Ball Four- Peterson who was a teammate and friend of Bouton’s with the Yankees was mentioned very favorably and Peterson over the years was one of the few ballplayers who commented positively on the book. Fritz is now 76 years old.