You can't make stuff like this up.

1973 was the year that Major League Baseball's American League instituted the still controversial designated hitter rule, but the biggest story of all that spring came when Yankees pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich arrived at spring training and announced that they had traded families.

Apparently taking their cue from the "wife swapping" practiced by 1960s "free love" advocates, Kekich and Peterson took things to a whole new level, permanently swapping not just their wives, but also their four children, houses, cars, and other possessions. They even traded family dogs, with Peterson acquiring Kekich's Bedlington terrier in exchange for his poodle.

"We didn't trade wives," Kekich said. "We traded lives."

Kekich and Peterson had been best friends for many years, and their families often hung out together. One evening during the 1972 season, while on a double date with their wives, the two friends joked about wife swapping, and soon the joke became a reality as Marilyn Peterson and Susan Kekich began switching beds. Finally, during the offseason, the two families decided to make the arrangement permanent.

"They were really close, and their families were close," explained former Yankees catcher Jake Gibbs. "I guess we just didn't know how close."

What ensued was a nationwide scandal, as conservative voices expressed outrage at what they saw as the ultimate sign of the collapse of American family values. In the fallout from the scandal, the Yankees washed their hands of the awkward situation by trading Kekich to the Indians. Peterson was shipped to the Indians the following season, by which time Kekick had already pitched himself off the team.

Peterson, who was a very good pitcher before the big swap, was never the same after it, and Kekich, who had been a mediocre pitcher, completely fell apart, and the erstwhile best friends were never close again. The new family worked out better for Peterson - he married the former Susan Kekich and the couple went on to have four more children of their own. Kekich never married the former Marilyn Peterson however, and the two split within a year.

For those who have ever played baseball, it's worth mentioning that the two pitchers were both left-handed.

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