YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP. TODAY IN BASEBALL TAKES US BACK TO FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA ON MARCH 5, 1973. New York Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich dropped a bombshell on spring training camp on this date. They announced to the world that they had swapped wives… and kids and a poodle and a terrier. “It wasn’t a wife swap,” they said, “It’s a life swap.” It was no joke.
America had lived through the turbulent, permissive 1960’s, but this was a shock on so many levels, not the least of which was that the swap was announced to the world.
Just like in baseball; you win some, you lose some and some get rained out. Peterson and Kekich had been close friends for years. They said there was nothing sordid about the “affair.” They and their wives began discussing the switch the previous summer and put it in effect in October, 1972.
Fritz Peterson was still living with Susanne Kekich and her two daughters, aged 4 and 2, at the time of the press conference, but Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson‘s relationship had already gone south. Their living arrangement with her two sons, aged 5 and 2, had been on-again/off-again. It also became apparent that the two left-handers had had a falling out over one affair working and the other not. Murray Chass wrote in the next day’s New York Times that, “…it was obvious they had bitter feelings toward each other.”
Fritz Peterson and the former Susanne Kekich eventually married and had four children of their own. The last that was heard they were still married and living outside Chicago. Peterson attended a Yankees charity event in Fort Lauderdale in January of 2013. The Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson affair was over before it started. Kekich eventually remarried and at last report was living in New Mexico.
Both achieved some success on the mound, but neither saw their careers flourish after the swap. Kekich finished his 12-year major league career with a 39-51 record. Peterson had career record of 133-131 over an 11-year career. He also did better on the domestic front.
There are rumblings that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck may make a movie about the “affair.” No joke.
The New York Times, March 6, 1973, pages 51-52, by Murray Chass
The New York Times, September 9, 2009, Fritz Peterson writes a book
Washington Times, March 7, 2005
The Palm Beach Post, January 26, 2013
Jackson, MS Clarion Ledger, by Rick Cleveland, August 29, 2000