Yankees pitcher Fritz Peterson, infamous for trading wives with a teammate, dies at 82

Peterson pitched nine seasons for the Yankees and was an All-Star in 1970

Yankees vs Boston Red Sox
Fritz Peterson fires one of his 108 pitches against the Red Soz in last night's 1-0 victory that catapulted the Yankees into second place in the Eastern Division of the American League. (Photo By: Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
Fritz Peterson put together a 20-win season in 1970. (Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Former New York Yankees left-hander Fritz Peterson died, the team announced on Friday. He was 82 years old.

Peterson pitched nine seasons for the Yankees from 1966 through 1974, notching a 20-win season in 1970, when he was also named to the American League All-Star team. He also pitched for Cleveland and the Texas Rangers during his career. Altogether, Peterson compiled a 3.30 ERA and 133–131 record, throwing over 2,200 innings.

Control was Peterson's best trait as a pitcher. He had a career walk rate of 1.7 per nine innings and averaged the lowest walks per nine in the AL for a five-season stretch from 1968 through 1972.

However, Peterson is perhaps best known for more infamous reasons. During spring training of 1973, he and teammate Mike Kekich revealed that they had traded families and homes. Kekich's wife and two daughters moved in with Peterson, while Peterson's wife and two sons lived with Kekich.

"It wasn't a wife swap. It was a life swap," Kekich said in an interview, via The New York Times. "We're not saying we're right and everyone else who thinks we're wrong are wrong. It's just the way we felt."

Peterson and Susanne Kekich went on to get married in 1974, and stayed together until his death. However, Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson ended their relationship shortly after the trade became public. Kekich was traded to Cleveland later that season.

In 2010, actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon intended to develop the wife swap story into a feature film. Director Jay Roach (Meet the Parents) was hired for the project with David Mandel (Veep, Seinfeld) set to write the screenplay.

As of 2015, the film was still in the works, though Kekich threatened to sue if it went forward. However, once schedules prevented Affleck and Damon from being able to star in the film, it appears to have fallen through.

"The Yankees are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Fritz Peterson, who was a formidable pitcher and affable presence throughout his nine years in pinstripes," the team said in a statement.

"A known prankster and well-liked among his teammates and coaches, Peterson had an outgoing personality and inquisitive nature that brought lightheartedness to the clubhouse on a regular basis and belied his prowess on the mound — most notably his impeccable control, which was among the best in the Majors."