Recalling Fritz Peterson’s 20th win in 1970

Exactly 45 years ago today, September 30, the last day of the 1970 baseball season, I paid the first of many visits to Fenway Park. Yankee history was made that night as Fritz Peterson earned his 20th victory of the season in a 4-3 win over the Red Sox.

Peterson had his finest season in 1970, finishing 20-11 overall with a 2.90 ERA. The left-hander won 17 games in 1969 and 1972, and finished his Yankee career with 109 wins. Overall, Peterson was 133-131 with a 3.30 ERA, including short stints with Cleveland and Texas. He retired in 1976.

In that 1970 game in Boston, Peterson, who doubled earlier in the game and scored the Yankees’ first run, took a 4-1 lead into the eighth inning before surrendering a two-run homer to Luis Alvarado. Peterson started the ninth but departed after surrendering a pair of one-out singles to Billy Conigliaro and Joe Lahoud. After giving up a walk with two outs to load the bases, Yankee closer Lindy McDaniel got Mike Andrew to ground out to preserve Peterson’s 20th win and earn his 29th save of the year.

The win capped off a strong season for the Yankees, who finished second in the AL East, 15 games behind Baltimore with a 93-69 record. The Orioles went on to defeat Cincinnati in five games to win the 1970 World Series.

Peterson, who recently authored a book “When The Yankees Were On The Fritz: Revisiting The Horace Clark Era,” was traded to the Indians in April of 1974, along with pitchers Fred Beene, Tom Buskey and Steve Kline, for first baseman Chris Chambliss and pitchers Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw. Chambliss hit a dramatic ninth-inning, walk-off home run to beat the Royals in the deciding game of the 1976 ALCS, and was a key cog on Yankee World Series winners in 1977 and 1978.

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