The True Story Of Two Yankees Teammates Who Swapped Their Wives And Families

Swapping wives or families may not be a new concept if you're familiar with reality TV shows such as "Wife Swap" and "Trading Spouses." These shows conduct social experiments wherein members of two families take each other's places for a couple of weeks to experience how the other family lives. They gain new perspectives, learn to appreciate their own family, and have more insight into the traditions and rules of other families. The concept of swapping spouses and households may be a good temporary experience for some, but for two baseball players, the exchange was permanent, and it wasn't done for reality TV.

Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich were pitchers for the New York Yankees. In 1973, the two athletes called for a press conference and revealed that they had swapped wives and families, as reported by New York Magazine. The public was surprised; some speculated on the reasons behind the swap, while others were simply puzzled about the situation. It's regarded by ESPN as the sixth most shocking moment in baseball history, and it certainly is one of the most interesting trades anyone has ever heard of.

Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich's friendship

Fritz Peterson had been with the New York Yankees for three years when Mike Kekich joined the team in 1969. The two men became fast friends, and they also lived near each other in New Jersey. In July 1972, as noted by ATI, New York Post writer Maury Allen invited Fritz and his wife Marilyn to his home for a barbecue. Fritz asked if he could also bring his friend Mike and his wife Susanne, and Allen agreed. The couples conversed with the guests and had a few drinks, and after the barbecue ended, the two couples decided to continue their fun at a diner in Fort Lee.

Fritz and Mike arrived at the barbecue in separate cars with their respective wives, but when it came time to leave Allen's home, they decided that Susanne should ride with Fritz while Marilyn with Mike on the way to the diner (via Fansided). All was well and the couples had fun. The couples decided to do it again the night after, and they grabbed dinner at a steakhouse. However, that night, Mike and Marilyn left the restaurant earlier, and Fritz and Susanne stayed to have a few more drinks. This arrangement went on for some time and eventually, the two Yankees realized that they were more compatible with the other's wife.

The family swap

Eventually, Mike Kekich had a serious conversation with Fritz Peterson (pictured above) about his feelings toward his wife. Mike told his friend that he had fallen in love with Marilyn and that he no longer had romantic feelings toward his own wife Susanne. Fritz felt the same way toward Mike's wife, and so the couples decided to swap spouses. However, they had other factors to consider; both couples had two children each, and they discussed the best way to go about the situation. In an interview with The Palm Beach Post, Fritz revealed that they decided it was more favorable if the children stay with their mothers. So, instead of a wife swap, they actually did a husband swap.

For the two couples, the changes in their lives weren't a big deal. Everyone agreed to the arrangement, and the two men and two women were happy with who they ended up with. The sexual revolution in the U.S. began in the '60s, and wife swapping was not a new concept, especially after the introduction of contraceptives, as reported by Psychology Today. Being known personalities in the sports world, there were rumors going around about Mike and Fritz's relationships. It was easy for the public to assume the arrangement was lewd, but Fritz said that there was nothing "smutty" about it at all; they just fell in love with each other's wives. To clear the air, each Yankee player held a press conference to make the public understand their situation.

Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich's statements

In 1973, Fritz Peterson explained the details of the family swap in a press conference. As reported by the New York Daily News, he asked the public to not assume anything sleazy about the situation, as it was just a love story, albeit an unusual one. "It wasn't a sex thing. It was not a cheap swap," he said (via Bleacher Report). Mike Kekich (pictured above), on the other hand, said, "Unless people know the full details, it could turn out to be a nasty type thing. Don't say this was wife-swapping, because it wasn't. We didn't swap wives, we swapped lives."

New York Yankees general manager Lee MacPhail said that the only thing Peterson and Kekich requested was for neither of them to be traded to another team, as they wanted to remain close to their respective children. The family swap affected their personal lives, but Kekich said that it didn't affect their relationship as teammates. After the 1973 season, Kekich was traded to the Cleveland Indians. According to New York Magazine, Peterson was also sent to Cleveland, but Kekich was gone from the team by that time. Their friendship had deteriorated after the swap, and they eventually lost touch.

Did the couples stay together?

According to psychoanalyst Dr. Joyce Brothers, per New York Magazine, four-way swaps in romantic relationships are rarely successful. Mike Kekich and Marilyn had an on-and-off relationship after the swap, and they ultimately didn't make it. In fact, by the time he held a press conference in 1974, they had already broken off their relationship. On the other hand, the other couple had a more successful union.

Fritz and Susanne married in 1974, and in an interview with The Palm Beach Post in 2013, Fritz said that they were still happily married; they have three children together. He shared that they still go on dates and parties and are still in the honeymoon stage even decades after their marriage. "I could not be happier with anybody in the world," he said. Although he had no regrets over the life swap, he explained that the only thing he felt bad about was that Mike and Marilyn didn't stay together.

Rumors about a movie

In 2010, there was news about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck producing a movie about the Yankees teammates' life swap titled "The Trade." According to Page Six, Mike Kekich wasn't happy about the idea and refused to partake in the creation of the film. Fritz Peterson, however, was all for it. As he told The Palm Beach Post in 2013, it would be a way for people to understand the truth of what really happened, and that "it was nicer than what they thought was going on." In fact, he agreed to serve as a consultant for the Warner Brothers movie. The movie hasn't been released and the latest news about it came out in 2015 when Page Six reported that it was still in development.

Peterson said in 2013 that he had not been in contact with Kekich for more than a decade. He had no ill feelings toward his former Yankees teammate, and he assumed that Kekich felt the same way about him. In March 1973, however, Kekich told The Miami News, "Somewhere inside, I'd like to kill him." It wasn't clear whether the statement was meant as a joke.