Trades have always generated a huge interest among baseball fans. We like to ponder hypothetical trades, celebrate the times our teams committed highway robbery and lament the swaps our teams made that left egg on our collective faces.
The trade deadline is one of the most dramatic days on the MLB calendar and there’s nothing quite like a team dropping a major multi-player deal on fans out of nowhere. That being said, of all the trades that have been, uh, consummated, over the years, there’s nothing quite like the swap involving Yankees teammates Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson from 1973.
No, this wasn’t George Steinbrenner’s first big move as Yankees owner. In fact, neither he nor Yankees General Manager Lee MacPhail weren’t even involved in the deal. Kekich and Peterson didn’t even change uniforms as part of the deal, but they did change some other stuff. If this is the first time you’re hearing of the Kekich-Peterson trade, we’ll end the enigma right now for you. The trade involving the two players didn’t have anything to do with baseball; it had to do with their families. We’re just wondering if Marilyn Peterson had a no-trade clause and what they had to do to get around that.
You can read the sordid details in The Stud 400 as the trade pops up in our countdown of the top 400 moments in MLB history.
Before we move on to this week’s edition of The Stud 400, here’s a look at the last five entries as we count down the 400 greatest moments in Major League Baseball history:
Rivera’s removal turns up on this week’s edition of The Stud 400, but first, here’s look at the previous five entries as we count down the 400 greatest moments in Major League Baseball history:
345. Joe West sets all-time record for games umpired (2021)
344. Red Sox hold sham tryouts for Black players (1945)
343. Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura (1993)
342. Daniel Okrent and friends invent fantasy baseball (1980)
341. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte remove Mariano Rivera in final game (2013)
And now, here’s Episode XIII of The Stud 400, featuring artwork by Will O’Toole.
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Satchel Paige pitches three scoreless innings at 58 (?) years old (1965)
In 1965, the Kansas City A’s signed the ageless Paige, who was rumored to be at least 58 years old at the time, for one game. Paige was set to start against the Red Sox and Bill Monboquette and several former Negro League players were on hand to be honored before the game. Paige was in the bullpen, sitting on a rocking chair, being served coffee by a “nurse” between innings. The first batter he faced was Jim Gosger, who popped out. Carl Yastrzemski was the only Red Sox player to record a hit as the legend faced ten batters, just one over the minimum. In the fourth inning, Paige took the mound only to be removed standing ovation from the small crowd of 9,289. The lights dimmed and, led by the PA announcer, the fans lit matches and cigarette lighters while singing “The Old Grey Mare.”
White Sox Turn Back the Clock Day (1990)
It might be hard to imagine, but there used to be a time when Major League Baseball teams had two uniforms and two uniforms only. That trend began to change in 1990 when the White Sox held the first-ever Turn Back the Clock Day. As a way to celebrate the final season of Comiskey Park, the White Sox wore replica uniforms from their 1917 World Series team, reduced general admission ticket prices to .50 cents and announced lineups via megaphone. It was a huge success and hard to put into perspective just how odd it was to see a team wearing non-traditional uniforms, considering how many different money-grab uniform variations are these days.
Jim Edmonds’ catch (1997)
Back in the days when people watched SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight, Edmonds was just as likely to show up on your screen as Chris Berman or Harold Reynolds. A walking Web Gem who never ceased to amaze as he flung his body all over the outfield, Edmonds outdid even himself against the Royals in June of 1997. David Howard cracked a shot that seemed clear over Edmonds’ head, but nothing is as it seems if you hit the ball in the vicinity of the eight-time Gold Glove winner. Racing back towards the wall with his back turned square to home plate, Edmonds launched himself, full extension, and impossibly plucked Howard’s drive out of the air. For someone who did things like this on a regular basis, this was Edmonds’ signature catch and one of the best defensive plays in baseball history.
Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich swap lives (1973)
Baseball is full of questionable and odd trades, but the Yankees announced a different type of trade in March of 1973. At that time, Kekich and Peterson held separate press conferences to announce that they had swapped lives. Peterson and his first wife Marilyn were close friends with Kekich and his first wife, Susanne. The group spent a lot of time together in the summer of 1972, and the two Yankee teammates would also spend time with each other’s wives. By the end of the summer, the group mutually agreed to make things official, so Peterson and Kekich swapped families. It was a complex move as both had children, pets and homes, so Peterson and Keckich essentially just swapped places. The Peterson and Kekich families had been friends since 1969. Peterson and the former Susanne Kekich are still married, but the relationship between Kekich and Marilyn Peterson did not last very long.
Gaylord Perry and the Man on the Moon (1969)
One of the most unbelievable coincidences in baseball history involved Perry, because of course it did. Perry was a Hall of Fame pitcher to be certain, but he was a poor hitter, even by pitcher standards. One day during the 1964 season, manager Alvin Dark and San Francisco Examiner reporter Harry Jupiter looked on as Perry smacked some home runs during batting practice.
Jupiter told Dark that Perry looked pretty good with a bat in his hands and remarked that the pitcher might even hit a home run one of these days. Dark’s response set in motion one of the weirdest coincidences in baseball history: “Mark my words, a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” Five years later, at 1:17 PM during the third inning of a game at Candlestick Park, it was announced that Apollo 11 had landed on the moon. Approximately 30 minutes later, Perry stepped to the plate and took Claude Osteen deep for his first career home run. It’s a story that has some variations and was never undeniably confirmed or refuted by Dark, so there is some mystery to it. But that’s the great thing about baseball’s tall tales and Gaylord Perry in general, you never know what to believe and that’s the way it should stay.
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Stay tuned for next week’s episode of The Stud 400 when we see our first literary entry on the list, remember a slugging pitcher who accomplished something that can never be done again and ponder the question, “If Ty Cobb was an Indian, would he still be an Indian or would he be a Guardian?”