Monday, November 2, 2009

1976 Topps #255 - Fritz Peterson

  • Fritz Peterson originally signed with the New York Yankees before the 1963 season. He pitched three seasons in the Yankees system and earned a promotion after going 16-6 with a 1.81 ERA for two teams in 1965. Peterson was the #2 starter for the Yankees in 1966 and went 12-11 with a 3.31 ERA for the last-place ballclub.

  • Peterson had a bit of a sophomore jinx in 1966 -- he was 8-14 with a 3.47 ERA in 30 starts. Starting in 1968 Fritz led the AL in lowest BB-per-9-innings for five years in a row. He had several nice years with the Yankees (12-11, 2.63 in 1968; 17-16, 2.55 in 1969; 20-11, 2.90 in 1970; 15-13, 3.05 in 1971; 17-15, 3.24 in 1972). Peterson made the AL All Star team in 1971 and allowed an RBI single to Willie McCovey (the only batter he faced) in the bottom of the 9th that made the score 4-3 AL leading. The NL eventually won 5-4 in 12 innings.
  • In 1973 Peterson dropped to a 8-15 record with a 3.95 ERA. Fritz was the last Yankee pitcher to start a game in the original Yankee Stadium before the remodel. Peterson ended up with the best ERA of any Yankee pitcher at Yankee Stadium (2.52 vs. Whitey Ford's 2.55).
  • Peterson was most famous for trading wives, kids, and even dogs with his close friend Mike Kekich. They experimented with it during the 1972 season and made it official in October 1972, although an announcement wasn't made until the spring of 1973. Peterson is still married to the former Susanne Kekich and had four more children with her, while Kekich and the former Marilyn Peterson soon parted ways.
  • Peterson was booed in most AL parks, prompting the Yankees to trade him. Fritz was traded with Fred Beene, Tom Buskey and Steve Kline to the Cleveland Indians for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw on April 26, 1974. Fritz ended up going 9-14 with a 4.38 ERA in 1974. Peterson had a pretty good year in 1975 (14-8, 3.94 ERA). In 1976 he started the season with an 0-3 record with a 5.55 ERA in nine starts. The Indians traded him to the Texas Rangers on May 28 for Stan Perzanowski and cash. Fritz pitched in four games for the Rangers and went 1-0 in 15 innings pitched. Apparently he was hurt since his last major league game was June 19, 1976. He tried out for the club in 1977 but was cut in spring training.
  • After his playing career Peterson became a blackjack dealer in a casino outside of Chicago and worked at various sales jobs. He was arrested for a DUI in 1995. Fritz later became an evangelical Christian and is now battling prostate cancer. Here is an article about his life after baseball. He wrote a memoir called Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven (article here).

  • Liked to face: Ed Brinkman (.209 in 86 AB); Aurelio Rodriguez (.205 in 83 AB); Graig Nettles (.145 in 69 AB); Reggie Jackson (.188 in 64 AB)

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