February 27, 2011

Affleck Working On Script About Wife-Swapping Yankees

In the fall of 1972, Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich traded families, taking the idea of "swinging" (since the men changed residences, you couldn't really call it "wife swapping", although I did in this post's title) to the extreme. As Rick Cleveland of the Clarion Ledger put it:
Peterson traded his wife, Marilyn, his two kids and a poodle for Susan Kekich, the two Kekich children and a Bedlington terrier.
News of the switch leaked out in the spring of 1973. One Yankee executive -- either Lee MacPhail or Dan Topping -- quipped: "We may have to call off Family Day."
Kekich pitched in only five games for the Yankees (9.20 ERA) in 1973 before being traded to Cleveland in June. Peterson stayed with New York for the entire season, but was also traded to Cleveland the following spring. I don't think they played together, though, as it looks like Kekich spent that year in AAA. Peterson ended up marrying Susanne Kekich, while Kekich and Marilyn Peterson split up.

I have known about this story for a long time, of course -- and have always meant to go back and see the reaction of the sports media when the news broke -- but now word comes that one of Ben Affleck's projects is a movie about the pitchers' story, entitled "The Trade".* Kekich is refusing to participate and the Post quotes a source as saying that the former pitcher is
panic-stricken. He has moved away and has a new identity. He is freaked out that those working on the movie found out where he is. ... Other Yankees from that time have also been really unhelpful with facts and details of what happened. They are stonewalling.
* - It turns out that Bronx Banter had a post about this project roughly one year ago. So this isn't exactly breaking news. Maybe Kekich's objection is the new twist?

Fellow pitcher and teammate Fred Beene said that Peterson "was practically destroyed by all the negative reaction."

And Kekich once stated:
All four of us had agreed in the beginning that if anyone wasn't happy, the thing would be called off. But when Marilyn and I decided to call it off, the other couple already had gone off with each other.
In 2009, Peterson published a book -- "Mickey Mantle Is Going To Heaven" -- and he told the Times he emails occasionally with Kekich.

The best thing about this possible movie is that because Affleck is a huge Red Sox fan, Yankees fans are going nuts when they hear about it. One comment under the Post's Page Six item accused "been a-flic" of "screwing with AMERICAS team", but I really liked this comment at the Baltimore Sun's Read Street blog:
Cry foul! How do two Red Sox fans get to make a movie about the NY Yankees?
There ought to be a law.

1 comment:

laura k said...

I think the expression "wife swapping" has gone the way of calling one's secretary "my girl". It implies that "wives" are objects to be traded, as in a swap meet. And not even women, they've been reduced to this role only. Yuck.

I remember this story, not when it happened, but from you telling me about it year ago. Reading about Kekich's reaction, I sure hope the movie doesn't get made.