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Meet The 1970s Baseball Players Who Swapped Wives And Lives

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Baseball Players Swapped Wives, Lives

Here's one for all you Major League Baseball fans. This is a story you really need to know about that went down 38 years ago. 

The year: 1973. The location: Tampa, Florida. The players: relief pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson. The happening: a trade involving two men, two women, four children and two dogs.

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Let's set the stage. It was the spring of 1973. The Yankees had just been purchased by The Boss, George Steinbrenner, for a reported $10 million. Rules had been instated regarding the length of players' hair.

The commissioner had decided to thumb his nose at convention and commit the unforgivable baseball sin of allowing the American League (the junior circuit) to use a designated hitter to bat for the pitcher. Baseball was changing.

But before all that happened, Mr. Mike Kekich and Mr. Fritz Peterson decided they needed their lives to start going in another direction.

And to jumpstart things, instead of running away from their families (which was easier back then, but still tough for a pro ballplayer), they decided to swap wives (and children and pets).

In fact, in addition to swapping wives, the two pitchers actually moved into one another's homes (likely a precursor to the show Wife Swap).

Peterson and Kekich, both Yankees southpaw pitchers, were close pals, and their families spent a ton of time together.

This led to the pitchers moving their bowling shirts, colognes and various medallion-ed necklaces (it was the 70s... they were swapping wives) into each other's homes.

The move wasn't made public until spring training of that year, and caused some amount of discomfort.

Both players were off the Yankees within two seasons, and baseball fans booed the pitchers at American League stadiums throughout the land.

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However, Peterson eventually admitted that none of it was planned and that it all just "happened."

During a night out together, the couples thought it would be fun to switch things up and ride to their destination with each other's spouses. 

Peterson said, “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.’ We did it the next night. We went out to the Steak and Ale in Fort Lee. Mike and Marilyn left early and Susanne and I stayed and had a few drinks and ate.”

He went on to explain, “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.”

The baseball players then decided that they would tell the public what had been going on themselves in order to clear everything up.

In his conference, Kekich had 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.”

After the big reveal, the gossip around the two couples eventually began to go away, and they all continued on happily ever after for years to come with their new arrangement. 

That is, until Mike and Marilyn decided to split up.

However, the wife swap seemed to have worked out in 

Peterson's favor surprisingly well, as he and the former Mrs. Kekich are still married, he finished his career with a much lower career ERA. Well, at least one couple made it. 

They say baseball is a game of inches, and you have to wonder if the wives agreed to the switcheroo because of this. 

Also, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were reportedly trying to turn this story into a feature film, but Kekich was against the idea.

Peterson, however, was more than willing to be a consultant if the film ever made it to the light of day, which it still hasn't, just in case anyone has been wondering.

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Tom Miller is a writer and performer based in New York. He's been the general manager and coordinating video producer at YourTango for 12 years. His side-chick is acting and improvised comedy.

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on March 31, 2011 and was updated with the latest information.