Can you imagine swapping your entire family? I do find this quote precious: "He said he’d rather get “the truth” out and do his best to dismiss the common notion that the two families had done something sordid.
“It’s a love story,” he said. “It wasn’t anything dirty.”"
_______________________________________________ Two New York Yankees swapped wives 44 years ago. Still married?
Joe Capozzi Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
One of baseball’s biggest blockbuster trades was announced to the world 44 years ago this month at old Fort Lauderdale Stadium — and it involved more than just players.
Fritz Peterson and his close friend, fellow New York Yankees pitcher Mike Kekich, had swapped wives — and children and dogs.
“Actually, it was a husband trade — Mike for me or me for Mike,” Peterson recalled with a laugh in an interview in 2013.
Although it became public in March 1973, the swap actually occurred in the summer of ‘72.
“It just happened. It wasn’t planned,” said Peterson, who won 109 games for the Yankees and pitched in the 1970 All-Star Game.
Peterson said at the time that he preferred to not talk about it. But if people ask, as they often have for the last 44 years, he doesn’t mind answering.
He said he’d rather get “the truth” out and do his best to dismiss the common notion that the two families had done something sordid.
“It’s a love story,” he said. “It wasn’t anything dirty.”
Peterson has been married to Susanne Kekich since 1974.
“I could not be happier with anybody in the world. ‘Mama’ and I go out and party every night,” he said. “We’re still on the honeymoon, and it has been a real blessing.”
Kekich and Marilyn Peterson moved in together in 1972, but they split up a few years later without getting married.
“That’s the only thing I feel bad for, that they didn’t work out because we all figured it could all work out,” Peterson said.
A fateful evening
The families both lived in New Jersey and had been friends since 1969.
“We were invited to a party at Maury Allen’s house on a Saturday night, July the 15th, 1972,” Peterson said.
“During the party, we all had a couple of beers and were having a great time. When we were deciding to leave, we had driven two different cars and happened to park behind each other out in the street. I said to my wife, Marilyn, ‘Why don’t you ride with Mike to the diner in Fort Lee, N.J., and I’ll take Susanne with me and we’ll meet there and then we’ll go home from there?’
“We did that, and we had so much fun together, Susanne and I and Mike and Marilyn, that we decided, ‘Hey, this is fun, let’s do it again.’ We did it the next night. We went out to the Steak and Ale in Fort Lee. Mike and Marilyn left early and Susanne and I stayed and had a few drinks and ate.
“It was just really fun being able to talk to somebody. All of us felt the same way. We went on from there and eventually he fell in love with my wife and I fell in love with his.”
Former outfielder Ron Swoboda, who played his final three seasons with the Yankees from ‘71-‘73, said he attended the same party.
“My first reaction? I had a solid marriage so I was like, ‘OK. That wouldn’t likely happen to me.’ It probably wouldn’t happen to a lot of people. But remember, that was the ’70s, not that far from the ’60s,” Swoboda said.
Couples drifted apart
Peterson had his best season in 1972, going 17-15 with a 3.24 ERA. Kekich went 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA.
Both players were so happy with their new lives off the field that they decided after the season to make their unusual arrangement permanent.
“When we did it, we figured the kids should stay with their mothers,” Peterson said. “Susanne flew back from California with her two daughters and my wife flew out to California to meet Mike’s family with our two sons, and that was it.”
Peterson said he didn’t think it would be that big of a story. But the day after the announcement, “I saw my picture on TV when I woke up,” he said. “And I said, ‘Uh-oh, it’s a big one.’ “
Kekich was traded to Cleveland that June. Peterson was traded to Cleveland a year later and pitched only three more seasons.
Peterson said he hasn’t spoken to Kekich in 10 years.
“We just went our own ways,” he said. “I don’t have anything against him and I don’t think he has anything against me.”