It’s 50th anniversary of Yankees’ most insane swap ever
The anniversary passed quietly. There is no better team in all of professional sports when it comes to honoring and celebrating their history than the Yankees. And why wouldn’t they? Their history is one to honor, and celebrate, and admire.
The year 2023 will mark several major anniversaries in the team’s history: 100 years since the first World Series champion. Seventy years after the 1953 team won their fifth World Series, no team (other than the 1936-39 Yankees) has ever come close to matching that feat. Forty-five years since the epic 1978 pennant race.
And, of course, 25 years after the 1998 team that won 125 games and took a rightful place in the paragraph discussing the greatest teams of all time. The Yankees will rightly spend a lot of time remembering that team. Yankees fans and history buffs will surely do the same for others.
This week, the 50th anniversary passed of another — shall we say — “interesting” milestone in Yankees history. Neither principal was invited to Steinbrenner Field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. There were no speeches. There are only a few books that take a close look at the 1973 Yankees, and those always stop at the beginning of March.
This is when Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich engaged in one of the most infamous trades in baseball history. They traded their lives. Literally. They swapped wives, they swapped pets, they essentially traded families. It was probably the most 1973 thing of 1973.
It was all published 50 years ago this week — and on the back page.
“Switch Has Yankees Mixed Up, Too” in the Post’s sports section on March 7 featured the lead story, and the accompanying comments are … well, priceless gems of timing.
“Everybody knows we’re a bunch of crazy people,” Thurman Munson told Post reporter Sheila Moran.
“I was very surprised,” said Ron Blomberg. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before except from reading books.”
“Nothing surprises me,” Sparky Lyle said.
There was a moment a few years ago when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon made a serious run to make a movie about the Peterson-Kekich exchange, but they were out of the roles before anything could be developed. It would have been something, some legendary Red Sox fan was exploring that particularly hideous moment in Yankees history.
However, what is the product of those free-love times, and how are they different from today: All concerned confirm that it was all hatched on July 15, 1972, about a year ago. That day, the Yankees (and Peterson) dropped a 6–2 game to the Oakland A’s at Yankee Stadium in front of 10,400 fans.
That night, Fritz and Marilyn Peterson and Mike and Suzanne Kekich joined Ron Svoboda and his wife, Cecilia, and a few others for a small dinner party at the Dobbs Ferry home of longtime Post baseball writer Maury Allen. It was, by all accounts, a fun night, which broke up around 2am.
By 3 a.m., Maury and his wife, Janet, had cleaned up and were heading to bed when Maury looked out the window and saw that Peterson and Kekich were still there, talking in front of their cars.
“We commented on it and went to bed,” Allen later wrote in his Yankees-themed book, “All Roads Lead to October.” “These are bowlers, mind you, different from you and me.”
(Full disclosure: I’ve never had Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Anthony Rizzo come to my house for a barbecue. They’re all welcome; I doubt they will. Maybe the Yankees had sportswriter parties on July 15, 1972. started raging on. .)
The rest, as they say, would have broken the Internet if the Internet had been invented in 1973. Thanks to a party thrown by a postie. I really would have liked Maury’s cameo role in that Damon-Affleck flick (although, maybe, on further review, it was a minor role to draw Leo instead).
The new Kekechs, alas, did not survive as a couple, although the Petersons still do. Both were soon exiled to Cleveland. It’s a pretty funny story and all the more compounded when you consider that it was the first big story to break under new Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“It won’t be any less entertaining over the next quarter century or so,” Allen wrote.
I’m just going to say this: though offering a No. 12 that resembles Namath if Aaron Rodgers comes in … no. just not
Some pre-order tips for you — you can thank me later when Jack Curry’s “The 1998 Yankees” comes out in May and Gary Myers’ “Once a Giant” comes out in September.
A team from Wisconsin vs. a team from Ohio for the Big East title. Dave Gavitt is crying into his beer somewhere.
I remember when I was a kid watching the Giants and Jets hopelessly in the 1970s, and my father always lamented, “Why can’t we have a coach like Bud Grant?” Godspeed to the purple pillar of the NFL.
Walk back on Vac
Steve Giegerich: I think it would be a perfect marriage for the Bronx Zoo to be the first patch on Yankees uniforms. For the Yankees: A wink and a nod to their history. For zoos: obvious promotional value. for me? Seeing my favorite Bronx institutions come together (if I may even include the Botanical Gardens!).
Vac: So sign me up!
Sam T: I don’t understand what Zach Wilson’s plan is. Publicly, the team is committed to him, and yet they are pursuing a QB who can play two to three years. [or] very long Do you see Wilson on this team in two years?
Vac: In a word: no.
@Brinks4eva: I would sell my soul twice for Rick Pitino after what we have had to deal with over the last 20+ years as St. John’s fans.
@MikeVacc: For better or worse, for good we’re talking about Johnny’s again.
Michael Kenesky: Since Zion Williamson can’t stay on the floor and Jae Morant can’t stay out of self-inflicted trouble, maybe the Knicks found the right guy in RJ Barrett in 2019?
Vac: Glad to see I’m not the only one thinking this.