Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich were teammates with the New York Yankees in the early 1970. The best of friends off the field, the Petersons and Kekiches – as well as their kids – spent much of their free time together.
One night after attending a cookout at a mutual friend’s house, Peterson and his wife, Marilyn – along with Kekich and his wife, Susanne, decided to throw a curveball into the relationship. They decided to ride back to their homes with their friends’ spouses.
Long story short, the new couples had such a good time with each other they decided to begin “dating.” Peterson says it was fun to begin with. “At first it was just having fun, nothing serious.”
But that all changed in 1972. After the baseball season ended and it was time to go home to Marilyn, Peterson suddenly realized how much he missed Susanne (Kekich’s wife). He couldn’t contain his feelings anymore, so he did what any rational human being would do – he called Kekich and told him he was in love with Kekich’s wife.
I said, “I don’t know how you feel about Marilyn, but …” Peterson recalled.
Apparently, Kekich didn’t take it the wrong way, because before you know it, the pair had devised a plan to change wives, children (yes, they both had children), homes, dogs – you name it! The idea was pitched to the wives, and amazingly they agreed. “Just before Christmas of ’72 my wife and two boys flew to California to be with Mike, and Susanne and her two girls flew to Jersey to be with me,” explained Peterson.
After years of not speaking on this subject, Peterson has decided to come clean on the whole subject because he’s discovered religion. “I always wanted to clear things up about our situation,” he said. “And after Mickey Mantle died, and Thurman Munson and more recently Bobby Murcer, I was concerned about their salvation and mine so I decided to write about it all.” (which he’s done in a tell-all book called “Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven.”)
If you’re like me, you wonder what kind of affect this had on the children of these two odd couples. Peterson’s boys and Kekich’s girls were five and two at the time of the exchange. “The older ones were confused and it bothered them for the rest of their lives,” was Peterson’s explanation.
I can’t believe, as much of a sports nut as I am, that I’ve never heard about this until today.
Just in case you’re wondering, Peterson and Susanne married in 1974 and, amazingly, are still married! Kekich and Marilyn never could really make it work. It’s interesting to mention, and it was probably no coincidence that both players had career-worst years on the field in ’74.
Too bad both guys were pitchers. They should have played different positions, because they were amazing “swingers” to be sure!