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.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.