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Did You Hear The One About The Wife-Swapping, Kid-Swapping NY Yankee Pitchers?

Culture | November 1, 2017

New York Yankee pitcher Fritz Peterson is shown in snapshot with wife Marilyn Peterson (right) and Mrs. Susan Kekich (L). On the card, Susan's husband and Fritz's teammate Mike Kekich. Sources: Bettmann/Getty; Pinterest

In 1973, two New York Yankees pitchers executed the most unusual trade in Major League Baseball history. Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich were good friends, had been since 1969, and they got along with each others' wives. No, they really got along with each other's wives. The story of the wife-swapping New York Yankees pitchers was shocking in tabloid-crazy, scandal-loving Big Apple, and even today reminds us that baseball isn't always a boring sport.

Kekich Had A Confession To Make To His Friend

The two players liked each other, but weren't comparable on the field of play. Peterson had been a 20-game winner and an All-Star in 1970, and had won 17 games in the 1972 season. Kekich, as pointed out in an ESPN retelling, was a journeyman who'd never had a winning season in the big leagues.

During the 1972 season, Mike Kekich had a serious talk with Fritz Peterson: Mike, it seems, was no longer in love with his wife Susan, and had fallen in love with Marilyn Peterson. Mike Kekich informed Susan of the fact as well. Somehow all four parties agreed upon an obvious, but perilous, course of action: Mike would be with Marilyn, and Fritz would be with Susan. The kids would stay with their mothers, and the pets would stay with the kids, making this technically a husband swap.

And everyone would be... happy with this?

Guess Who Got The Better End Of This Deal

Like many sports trades, this one hardly worked out as planned.

On March 4, 1973, during spring training, the two pitchers held separate press conferences to explain what the hell had happened. By the time of the dueling announcements, Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson were done. 

Fritz Peterson and Susan Kekich, meanwhile -- the two spouses who were thrown together by Mike and Marilyn's destructive love tornado -- are still together today.

Their Baseball Careers Were Doomed

Fritz and Susan's marriage seems to be the only positive outcome of this bizarre love square -- both players' careers took a nose dive starting with the 1973 season. Peterson, the former All-Star, went 8-15, and was traded away by New York in 1974. Kekich was let go earlier -- after four bad games, he was off to the Cleveland Indians in June.

"We didn't swap wives," Kekich said in his press conference, "We swapped lives." It's true because it rhymes.

If you're thinking this sounds like it would make a bittersweet, strange-but-true sports romance movie, you're not the only one. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have been trying to make the film, to be called The Trade, for years -- as producers, not stars -- but it's still stuck in what Hollywood types call "development hell." Will it ever happen? Who can say.

Tags: 1970s News | 1970s Sports | Baseball | Career-Defining Moments | Sports

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.