After he purchased the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner walked around the spring training clubhouse pointing out which players had hair that was too long.
Manager Ralph Houk, sitting in his office, puffing away at his cigar, had trouble keeping a straight face. Steinbrenner had no idea about what was happening.
During the first week in March 1973, Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich called a press conference. It had to be the most bizarre baseball-related press conference of all time. On second thought, that’s not true because it related to baseball only indirectly.
According to New York Magazine, Ben Afflect is working on a film based on what Peterson and Kekich revealed at their press conference. There have been rumors that Matt Damon may be involved.
Not a Yankees admirer, Afflect told MTV that he felt nothing but disdain and contempt for the Yankees as an institution.
In July 1972, in Dobbs Ferry, New York, baseball writer Maury Allen, who covered the Yankees, noticed that Peterson’s wife Marilyn wasn’t wearing her blonde wig, which she wore to please her husband.
A few weeks earlier, Marilyn had asked Allen’s wife how often was normal to have sex. In his book, All Roads Lead to October, Allen wrote that it seemed as if Susanne Kekich were competing with Marilyn for Frtiz’ affection.
In Allen’s driveway that July evening, the two Yankees left-handers and their wives discussed exchanging families. After many hours, Fritz took off with Susanne Kekich and Mike left with Marilyn.
At the press conference months after the swap, Kekich explained.
“It was a life swap. We’re not saying we’re right and everyone else who thinks we’re wrong are wrong. It’s just the way we felt.”
Peterson said, “It wasn’t a sex thing. It was not a cheap swap.”
The children and the pets joined the restructured families.
It worked out better for Peterson and Susanne Kekich than for Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson.
Kekich and Marilyn broke up, but Peterson, now 70-years-old and Susanne are still together.
Both pitchers paid a tremendous price for what Kekich said was the only reason he would give up his two young daughters.
“The only way I could justify giving up my daughters was for a love far greater that I had ever known. By American standards, we both had good marriages … but we were striving for something greater.”
Neither pitcher was effective any longer and both were soon ex-Yankees. Kekich was sent to the Cleveland Indians in June after posting a 9.20 ERA in 14 innings. His career was basically over.
Peterson, who had been a 20-game winner in 1970, was 8-15 in 1973, but indirectly, he helped the Yankees win three consecutive pennants and two World Championships from 1976-78.
On Apr. 26, 1974, he was traded to Cleveland along with three pitchers in exchange for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Uphaw. Without Chambliss and Tidrow, the Yankees would never won those championships.
Some individuals can’t leave well enough alone.
Jacobson, Mark. “The Big Trade; The legendary tale of two Yankees pitchers who swapped wives, and lives, is an irresistible soap opera.” New York Magazine. 27 June 2011.
2 yankees disclose family exchange. (1973, Mar 06). New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 51-51. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/119663970?accountid=46260