Inside the NY Yankees Wife Swapping Scandal
On March 5th, 1973, as the New York Yankees prepared to play their first season under new owner George Steinbrenner, two of the team’s starting pitchers, Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich, took it upon themselves to call a press conference during which they revealed to the media and the world that they had decided to trade families.
The shocking announcement left reporters completely stunned, even as the teammates, who along with their wives had been friends for years, tried to downplay the news. “Don’t make anything sordid out of this,” said Fritz, who at the time was reportedly shacking up with Mike’s wife, Susanne. Mike also tried to squash the idea of their switch being controversial. “Don’t say this was wife swapping, because it wasn’t,” said Mike. “We didn’t swap wives, we swapped lives.”
The “life swap,” which was first discussed by the couples after a night at the movies, was put into effect at a party in Dobbs Ferry, New York, in the summer of 1972. Mike and Marilyn, Fritz’s wife, had long been attracted to each other, as had Fritz and Susanne, so they decided to try things out for a night, agreeing to meet the next morning to see how each couple had fared. They linked up at a diner in New Jersey and decided to continue their arrangement, which included the children of both couples going with their mothers, and the exchanging of vehicles, residences and even family pets.
Fritz and Susanne Kekich would end up sharing a home with Mike and Susanne’s two daughters and their poodle, while Mike and Marilyn Peterson stayed with Marilyn’s two sons and the family terrier. While the notion of couples swapping partners was commonplace in the sexually liberating time that was the 1970s, never before had two high-profile athletes been linked publicly to the practice. Fritz and Mike’s decision created a public-relations nightmare for the sport of baseball and left then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn “appalled,” although there was little he could do to stop what was happening. And while some thought Steinbrenner would intervene, he seemed more concerned with managing his players’ physical appearances (no facial hair, hair-length restrictions) than he did their personal relationships.
In the end, the “life swapping” didn’t work out all too well for everyone involved. Mike and Marilyn split up after a few months and tried to get back with their estranged spouses, but Fritz and Susanne didn’t want to separate. Understandably, this led to a certain amount of friction in the Yankees clubhouse. In June of that season, Mike Kekich was dealt to the Cleveland Indians, although his 9.20 ERA over just 14 innings of work was most likely the reason. Fritz Peterson was traded to the Indians the following spring, although by that time Mike had moved on to pitch in Japan. As for their respective relationships, both couples eventually agreed to divorces, which allowed Fritz and Susanne to marry. They would go on to have four children of their own, while Mike and Fritz have remained estranged to this day. They could soon find themselves sharing the spotlight again in the near future, as Academy Award-winning bff’s (and die-hard Red Sox loyalists) Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are rumored to be onboard to portray them in a film based on their scandalous ordeal.