Fritz Peterson, Ex-Yankees Pitcher, Passes Away At 82

 April 13, 2024

According to Fox News, the former New York Yankees pitcher, who celebrated a wife swap with teammate Mike Kekich, passed away at 82.

This event, strikingly unconventional for its time, or perhaps any time, encapsulated a significant change in Peterson's personal life and marked a moment of bizarre intrigue in sports history.

Peterson and Kekich's decision was born out of mutual affection for each other's spouses, culminating in a swap that followed after both families spent considerable time together in 1972. The swap was solidified during the spring training of 1973, establishing a new relational dynamic that would persist for decades.

While Fritz Peterson remained married to his new wife until his last day, Mike Kekich's romance with the former Mrs. Peterson did not sustain the test of time, leading to their eventual separation. This stark contrast in the aftermath of such a swap dwells deeply on the unpredictable nature of love and relationships.

Fritz Peterson's Legacy On and Off the Field

Peterson once described the swap lightheartedly as a husband-for-husband trade, revealing the camaraderie and intricate relationships woven through this tale.

His career in the MLB, particularly noted for its prime years between 1968 and 1972, showcased remarkable pitching skills that led him to lead the American League in walks per nine innings and secure some impressively low ERA figures.

Over his 11-season career, mostly with the Yankees but concluding with the Texas Rangers in 1976, Peterson compiled a commendable record of 133-131 and a 3.30 career ERA. However, his move post-swap and adjustment to life beyond baseball spiraled into a quieter narrative than his headline-making swap.

Peterson's later years were shadowed by a diagnosis of Alzheimer's in 2018, marking a somber turn in the former MLB player's life journey. Despite these challenges, Fritz Peterson's legacy extends beyond the diamond, encapsulating a story rich with novelty, affection, and human complexity.

Reflecting on a Story That Transcended Sports

Reflecting on the events that unfolded, Peterson shared in 2013 during an interview with the Palm Beach Post:

We did that and we had so much fun together, Susanne and I and Mike and Marilyn, that we decided, ‘Hey, this is fun, let’s do it again. It was just really fun being able to talk to somebody. All of us felt the same way. We went on from there and eventually, he fell in love with my wife and I fell in love with his.

This sentiment captures the initial light-heartedness that led to one of sports' most talked-about personal decisions. Peterson and Kekich's choice to swap lives indeed left many speechless, punctuating the often unpredictable intersection of personal desire and professional camaraderie.

Sadly, for Kekich and the former Mrs. Peterson, the bonds that initially seemed resilient could not endure. "That’s the only thing I feel bad for, that they didn’t work out because we all figured it could all work out,’’ Peterson once remarked, touching on the bittersweet outcome of their unusual arrangement.


As we look back on Fritz Peterson's life, it is essential to remember the complexities and the unorthodox path he walked, both as an accomplished athlete and as a man who navigated the turbulent waters of public scrutiny with dignity and a sense of humor.

His story, interwoven with moments of exceptional sporting achievements and unique personal choices, offers a profound commentary on the human condition - illustrating that life, much like baseball, can be unpredictable, challenging, and sometimes surprisingly beautiful.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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