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Former Yankee Fritz Peterson, who famously traded wives and children with teammate, dead at 82

One half of the New York Yankees’ most bizarre trade ever has died.

Fritz Peterson, who exchanged wives and children with his teammate Mike Kekich, died Thursday at the age of 82.

As the New York Post notes, the families were hanging out at former baseball writer Maury Allen’s house on July 15, 1972. Apparently, that’s when the teammates began to fall in love with the other’s wife.

“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,'” Peterson told the Palm Beach Post in 2013. “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.”

In spring training of 1973, Peterson and Kekich agreed to entirely swap families officially. Peterson joked it was actually a husband-for-husband trade.

Peterson remained with his new wife for the rest of his life, while Kekich and the former Mrs. Peterson didn’t last all that long.

Fritz Peterson playing on road

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“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.

Shortly after the swap, Kekich was traded to Cleveland. The Yankees also sent Peterson there the following year, but Kekich played in Japan during that season.

Peterson spent 11 seasons in the big leagues, nine of them with New York. While best known for the swap, he actually had been a top-notch starting pitcher while wearing the pinstripes.

In each year from 1968 to 1972, Peterson led the American League in walks per nine innings, while leading the majors three times. He also had the AL’s best WHIP and K/BB in 1969 and 1970. During those years, he pitched to a 2.88 ERA, the 12th-best ERA in that span.

Fritz Peterson on the mound

The lefty went 133-131 with a 3.30 career ERA, retiring after a brief stint with the Texas Rangers in 1976. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2018.

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