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.