February 8, 1942 |
|Batted: Switch||Threw: Left|
|April 15, 1966 for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 19, 1976 for the Texas Rangers|
|Earned run average||3.30|
|Career highlights and awards|
Fritz Fred Peterson (born Fred Ingels Peterson February 8, 1942) is a former Major League Baseball player who played for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers from 1966 to 1976. Peterson was a southpaw starting pitcher who enjoyed his best success in 1970 with the Yankees when he went 20-11 and pitched in the All-Star game. He is widely known for trading families with a teammate in the early 1970s.
During the final game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, September 21, 2008, ESPN Sports announced that Fritz Peterson had the all-time lowest earned run average at Yankee Stadium, with a 2.52 ERA. Whitey Ford was second with a 2.55 ERA. The honor is permanent since Yankee Stadium has been demolished. Peterson was the starting pitcher for the Yankees in the last game played at the original Yankee Stadium, which was completely renovated after the final game of the 1973 season.
In 1969 and 1970, Peterson had the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the American League. Peterson also led the league in fewest walks per 9 innings pitched 5 years in a row, 1968-1972. The last pitcher who did that 5 years in a row was Cy Young. In 1970 and 1975, he had the 10th-best won-lost percentages in the league.
He is best remembered today for swapping families with fellow Yankee pitcher Mike Kekich, an arrangement the pair announced at spring training in March 1973. Peterson and Kekich had been inseparable friends since 1969; both families lived in New Jersey, their children were about the same age, and often they all would visit the Bronx Zoo or the shore or enjoy a picnic together. They decided that they would one day trade wives, children, and even dogs.
The affair began in 1972, when the two couples joked on a double date about wife swapping, a phenomenon that caught on in some uninhibited circles during the early 1970s. According to one report, the first swap took place that summer, after a party at the home of New York sportswriter Maury Allen. The couples made the change official in October; Kekich moving in with Marilyn Peterson and Peterson with Susanne Kekich, but no word leaked out until spring of 1973. A light moment came when New York Yankees General Manager Lee MacPhail remarked, "We may have to call off Family Day." The trade worked out better for Peterson than it did for Kekich, as Peterson is still married to the former Susanne Kekich, with whom he has had four children. Kekich and Marilyn Peterson did not remain together very long. Today, Marilyn is probably most-remembered for her fashion attire of mini-skirts and white boots.
Peterson's pitching seemed to suffer in 1973 and 1974 after this "deal," and he was roundly booed in nearly every American League ballpark afterwards. In April 1974, the Yankees traded him to the Cleveland Indians.
Later, Peterson and Susanne Kekich lived outside Chicago, where he worked as a blackjack dealer at a casino.
Peterson is also notable for his appearances in Jim Bouton's bestselling 1970 non-fiction book Ball Four, where he is generally portrayed as one of the few major leaguers and former Yankees who had a positive view of Bouton.
Fritz Peterson released his first book, Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven in July 2009. Sports author Maury Allen is quoted as saying, "Fritz's book is even better than Bouton's Ball Four."
- Cleveland,Rick (August 29, 2000). "Biggest trade ever? We could argue, but the weirdest is no contest". The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
- "Peterson To Air N.Y. Hockey Games". The Morning Record. Associated Press. September 29, 1972.
- Fritz Peterson at Baseball Almanac
- Fritz Peterson at Baseball Reference
- Details of the Peterson-Kekich trade
- "Kekich and Peterson made strangest trade in '73," 3/7/05