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.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.