Take My Wife….PleasePosted: September 29, 2008
Mike Mussina is not the only Yankee pitcher to beat the Red Sox for his 20th win on the final day of the season at Fenway Park.
As a sophomore in college, I went to my first game at Fenway in 1970 and saw left-hander Fritz Peterson beat the Sox, 4-3 for his 20th victory.
In that game, Boston’s Billy Conigliaro and Luis Alvarez hit home runs, but Jerry Kenney’s two-run single capped a three-run fourth that gave the Yankees the win.
Peterson went 8 1/3 innings, then gave way to veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel who recorded his 29th save by getting Mike Andrews to ground out with the bases loaded.
Peterson finished 20-11 that season with a 2.90 ERA , the only time he won 20 games. During his career, Peterson was 133-131 with a 3.30 ERA with the Yankees, Indians and Rangers.
From 1968 to 1972, Peterson led the league in control every year, with as few as 1.23 walks per nine innings in 1968.
But although Fritz was noted for his control on the field, off the field was a different story.
Today, Fritz Peterson is best remembered for swapping families with fellow Yankee pitcher Mike Kekich an arrangement the pair announced at spring training in 1973. Friends since 1969, the Yankee pitchers decided that they would one day trade wives, children, and even dogs.
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 last long.
Yankee general manager Lee MacPhail later remarked, “We may have to call off Family Day.”
Peterson’s pitching suffered after the swap. Eventually, he was traded to Cleveland in 1974 along with three other pitchers for three pitchers for Chris Chambliss, whose home run won the 1976 pennant for the Yankees.
Kekich, another southpaw, wound up 39-51 in this career with a 4.59 ERA and one less wife. He was sent packing to the Indians for pitcher Lowell Palmer in the middle of the 1973 season.