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Most Bizarre Trade Ever: Kekich and Peterson Trade Wives, Kids, Houses, Cars and Dogs

On March 5, 1973 during spring training at Fort Lauderdale, New York Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich announced they had swapped wives. In addition, they swapped two kids from each family, houses, cars, and dogs. I'm not sure who got the best of the dog trade with a poodle being exchanged for a terrier. The Yankees' front office made a remark that the Yankees may have to call off "Family Day" that year.

This news overshadowed George Steinbrenner buying the Yankees from CBS and the fact that in a few weeks, the American League would begin to use the DH for the first time. Bowie Kuhn said he got more mail about the wife swap than about the DH rule. However, Kuhn couldn't do anything to stop the wife swap transaction.

The two families had been friends since 1969 and both lived in New Jersey and went to the Bronx Zoo together.

The swap had taken place the previous October when Mike Kekich moved in with Marilyn Peterson, and Fritz Peterson moved in with Susanne Kekich. They kept it on the down low until the next spring when they shocked the baseball world with their announcement.

Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson decided it wasn't going to work out for them in a few weeks, but Fritz Peterson and Susanne Kekich later married and, according to reports on the internet, they are still married 35 years later and living outside Chicago. Kekich is currently living in New Mexico.

The latest information is that Kekich is an insurance adjuster and Peterson is an evangelist at the present time. Needless to say, neither have spoken to the other for decades because the original agreement was that if one couple wasn't happy with the exchange, they would go back to their original familes, but by then, Fritz and Susanne reneged on that agreement because they were too happy with each other. This would have made a great reality series, but television wasn't ready for this type of reality series back in the 70's.

On the baseball field, both Kekich and Peterson had bad seasons the year the wife swap was announced. Peterson had won 69 games in the previous four seasons before the wife swap and had won 20 games in 1970 for the Yankees. In 1973 and 1974, after the wife swap, he had 8-15 and 9-14 seasons. Peterson was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the trade that the Yankees acquired Chris Chambliss, and Peterson had one last good season in 1975 with a 14-8 record. He started off 0-3 with the Indians before being traded to the Texas Rangers for Stan Perzanowski and pitched his last game for the Rangers on June 19, 1976 at the age of 34.

Peterson had pinpoint control and never walked more than 49 batters in a season and, in 1971 while with the Yankees, issued only 42 walks in 274 innings. Peterson was born in Chicago on February 8, 1942. He finished his career with a 133-131 record and led the AL in least bases on balls issued from 1968-1972. Three years after the wife swap was announced, Peterson was out of baseball and was booed by fans around the league after the news broke about the wife swap. He pitched for the Yankees for nine seasons, but never saw any postseason action, since this was a down period for the Yankees.

Meanwhile, Mike Kekich had 10-9 and 10-13 seasons before the wife swap was announced in 1973. Before the 1973 season was over Kekich was traded to the Indians for Lowell Palmer, a pitcher who never threw a pitch in the majors for the Yankees. Kekich had a combined 2-5 record in 1973 and didn't play in the majors again until 1975 when he surfaced with the Rangers. So both Peterson and Kekich followed the same Yankees to Indians to Rangers path. Kekich was also out of the majors in 1976 but pitched for Seattle Mariners in 1977 with a 5-4 record before playing his final game on October 1, 1977. Kekich was not a control pitcher like his ex-friend Peterson. In 1973 he had 49 walks and only 30 strikeouts. He finished his career with a 39-51 record. Kekich was born April 2, 1945 in San Diego, California.

For both pitchers, the wife swap seemed to speed up the end of their careers. It is difficult to correlate how much the wife swap affected their performances on the mound, but I think it is safe to say that it sure didn't help extend their careers. Peterson played only three more seasons after the shocking announcement of the swap and Kekich only played two more seasons.

Spring Training Notebook

In the last two days, several of the bigger name prospects have been sent to the minor leagues. On Saturday, the Atlanta Braves sent two of their best known prospects to the minors: Brandon Jones, has been sent to Triple A Richmond, and Jordan Schafer, who has been sent to Double A Mississippi. Since Mississippi plays the local Knoxville Smokies, I hope to see Schafer in action sometime this summer.

In no major surprise, the Philadelphia Phillies sent down Casey Smith to the minor league camp. Smith, who had a great spring, was blocked by Chase Utley at second base and his best option is to be traded to another team. Morgan Ensberg is officially a New York Yankee now with him being signed to a contract. Since his career year of 2005 when he hit 36 home runs and drove in 101 runs, he hit a total of 35 home runs and drove in 97 runs in the last two seasons between the Houston Astros and San Diego Padres, who he played for last season after being traded by the Astros.

In another announcement, the Yankees have placed Carl Pavano on the 60 day disabled list. The Yankees have spent $27 million already on Pavano for a 5-6 record in three seasons with him not even playing in the 2006 season. While Pavano can't help being injured, it seems like teams would structure contracts in a way to prevent paying exorbitant sums to players not healthy enough to play. If nothing else, they should get half their pay for any month they don't play in a game.

Don't feel sorry for Sidney Ponson being sent to minor league camp by the Texas Rangers. He has parlayed his 82-101 record into making $23 million in his career. On Sunday, the Kansas City Royals sent Luke Hochevar to Triple A Omaha where he was 1-2 in 58 innings last season. Hochevar went to the University of Tennessee and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft.

Chase Headley led the San Diego Padres in home runs and RBIs this spring, but the Padres think he needs more time to learn how to play the outfield. You would think the Padres would have someone better than Jody Gerut available to take his spot in left field. He has not played in the majors since 2005, and had one home run in 170 at bats that season playing for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, and Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2005 season.

Francisco Liriano pitched 4 shutout innings of hitless ball for the Minnesota Twins in their 3-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. This is good news for the Twins, who really need a big season from Liriano after trading Johan Santana to the New York Mets. Mike Hampton pitched 6 innings while allowing two runs in the 4-2 defeat of the Houston Astros yesterday. Hampton has a 1.98 ERA this spring and apparently is ready to be part of the Atlanta Braves' rotation in 2008. Hampton only had 12 starts in the 2005 season and hasn't pitched a regular season game since then.

Hunter Pence is hammering the ball and hit his fourth home run of the spring, driving in his 14th run as well. Pence is tied with Mike Morse for the lead in hits this spring. His most impressive stat is that he has 50 total bases this spring, which is six ahead of Albert Pujols, who has 44 and also leads Pujols in extra base hits this spring with 13 while Pujols has 12.

Paul Maholm (2-1) pitched 6 innings of 2 hit ball in the 8-0 shutout of the New York Yankees, who could only manage two singles off of Pittsburgh Pirates pitching. Cole Hamels (2-1) and Jason Donald combined to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 15-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Hamels didn't pitch that well, but pitched well enough to win. Donald hit two three run home runs and drove in six runs for the Phillies. The Phillies hammered out 16 hits, while the Blue Jays had 15. However, the Phillies had 11 extra base hits while the Blue Jays only had four extra base hits.

The Tampa Bay Rays are still the best team this spring after defeating the Cincinnati Reds 10-9 behind a 16 hit attack. Carlos Pena and Jonny Gomes both hit their third home runs of the spring in the game. Matt Garza pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed only two runs and has a 3.05 ERA this spring. However, Troy Percival gave up 7 runs and 6 hits in only one inning. The St. Louis Cardinals blasted the New York Mets 14-4 yesterday, as they garnered 21 hits in the contest. Albert Pujols has not let his injury slow him down this spring, as he drove in two runs and raised his spring average to .415. Orlando Hernandez gave up 5 runs in 3 innings to raise his spring ERA to 15.00 and Mike Pelfrey pitched even worse allowing 8 runs and 13 hits in 4 1/3 innings so the two combined to give up 13 runs in 7 1/3 innings.

The Chicago Cubs only had a double to go with 11 singles, but still defeated the San Diego Padres 7-3. Greg Maddux (1-1) gave up 6 runs in the first inning and 7 runs in 4 innings to take the loss for the Padres. The Cubs stole 3 bases off of Michael Barrett the ex-Cub. The Chicago White Sox lost to the Kansas City Royals 6-5, but Brian Anderson and Carlos Quentin both homered for the White Sox. The two outfielders may not be regulars in the outfield, but it is good to know they can fill in and come off the bench if needed. More than likely it will be Jermaine Dye, Nick Swisher, and Jerry Owens in the outfield in 2008.

The Colorado Rockies defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-2 yesterday. and it looks like Scott Podsednik will be leading off this season since he is hitting .361 with 10 stolen bases for the Rockies, while Willy Taveras is hitting .205 and has only 2 stolen bases this spring. The Dodgers have a logjam in the outfield with Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones likely to play two of the three outfield positions. That leaves these players to battle for the remaining corner outfield spot:

  1. Andre Ethier, with 5 home runs, 14 RBI's and .344 average and .623 slugging percentage.
  2. Matt Kemp, with 3 home runs, 17 RBI's and .339 average and .625 slugging percentage.
  3. Jason Repko, with 2 home runs, 13 RBI's and .343 average and .571 slugging percentage.

That means Delwyn Young, who is out of options, is in a bad place with one home run, 5 RBI's and .143 average with .204 slugging percentage and likely is the odd man out.

The Los Angeles Angels pounded the Seattle Mariners 8-2 behind the pitching of Dustin Moseley (1-1) who pitched 5 innings of shutout baseball and the hitting of Gary Matthews Jr. and Juan Rivera who drove in 3 runs each. Marlon Byrd threw out Aaron Rowand at home and a speeding Benjie Molina at third base in the Texas Rangers' 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. Molina has amassed 3 stolen bases in his ten year career. Giants are 8-18 and the worst team this spring and are now 9 1/2 games behind the Florida Marlins in the NL spring standings.

Chris Capuano has a torn ligament in his elbow, and will probably choose to have season ending Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career. This almost certainly means that Capuano will not pitch for Milwaukee Brewers in 2008.