February 8th, 2012

February 8 – Happy Birthday Fritz Peterson

fritzpetersonFritz Peterson, who was born on this date in Chicago in 1942, was a lot of different people rolled into one pinstriped uniform. I guess first off, he was a very talented left-handed starting pitcher who won 20 games for the 1970 Yankees, won 109 games during his nine seasons in New York, pitched over 1,800 innings, threw eighteen shutouts and compiled an impressive 3.10 ERA for a string of Yankee teams that were not exactly known for their offensive or defensive prowess. He loved pitching in “the House that Ruth built” and I was surprised to discover that he had the lowest career Yankee Stadium ERA (2.52) of any pitcher on New York’s illustrious all-time roster.

Fritz was also one of the whackiest guys in the Yankee clubhouse. His first Yankee roommate, Jim Bouton once confessed to Peterson that he pitched better when he was really nervous about something. Before Bouton’s next start, Fritz walked up to him and told him that if New York didn’t win the game, Bouton’s infant son was going to die.

Peterson was super intelligent and after retiring from the game, he became a devout born again minister and sometimes insurance salesman. Regardless,in spite of all his accomplishments on the field and all of the wild and diversified things he did off of it, the first thing about Fritzie that comes to mind for Yankee fans like me who remember watching Peterson pitch will always be the wife swap he and fellow Yankee pitcher Mike Kekich made during the 1973 preseason. I’d never seen anything like it happen to a Yankee team before and I doubt very much I will ever see a similar exchange take place among Yankee teammates again.

Peterson shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee utility player and this long ago back-up second baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1966 NYY 12 11 .522 3.31 34 32 1 11 2 0 215.0 196 89 79 15 40 96 1.098
1967 NYY 8 14 .364 3.47 36 30 1 6 1 0 181.1 179 88 70 11 43 102 1.224
1968 NYY 12 11 .522 2.63 36 27 3 6 2 0 212.1 187 72 62 13 29 115 1.017
1969 NYY 17 16 .515 2.55 37 37 0 16 4 0 272.0 228 95 77 15 43 150 0.996
1970 NYY 20 11 .645 2.90 39 37 0 8 2 0 260.1 247 102 84 24 40 127 1.102
1971 NYY 15 13 .536 3.05 37 35 2 16 4 1 274.0 269 106 93 25 42 139 1.135
1972 NYY 17 15 .531 3.24 35 35 0 12 3 0 250.1 270 98 90 17 44 100 1.254
1973 NYY 8 15 .348 3.95 31 31 0 6 0 0 184.1 207 93 81 18 49 59 1.389
1974 NYY 0 0 4.70 3 1 2 0 0 0 7.2 13 4 4 1 2 5 1.957
11 Yrs 133 131 .504 3.30 355 330 9 90 20 1 2218.1 2217 947 813 173 426 1015 1.191
NYY (9 yrs) 109 106 .507 3.10 288 265 9 81 18 1 1857.1 1796 747 640 139 332 893 1.146
CLE (3 yrs) 23 25 .479 4.34 63 63 0 9 2 0 346.0 400 193 167 34 87 118 1.408
TEX (1 yr) 1 0 1.000 3.60 4 2 0 0 0 0 15.0 21 7 6 0 7 4 1.867
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.