by: Austin Welch source: Big League Stew
The Sandlot, this ain’t.
I’m a big fan of both baseball and movies, so of course, it follows that I’m a big fan of baseball-themed movies. Most of them are feel-good affairs, tapping into the The Grand Game’s natural tendency to be connected to childhood memories, perhaps renewing our feelings toward our parents. But every once in a while, a baseball movie comes along that skirts tradition, and brings us a tale of the not-so-feel-good, or maybe something just plain weird.
Years ago, after earning nine Oscar nominations and two wins for Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon optioned the rights to one of baseball’s weirdest – but no less true – stories. Back in 1973, a pair of New York Yankees pitchers, Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, made the ultimate wife swap. Not for one night of kinky sex, but rather a permanent trade – wife, kids, pets, the whole shebang. That’s right, the two southpaws essentially traded lives. Talk about a Yankee swap! It caused quite the scandal back then, as then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn received more mail about the swap than the controversial designated hitter rule enforced in the American League a few years prior. According to a Sports Illustrated article from 2000, both men stated they wanted to put the past behind them, and have refused to comment on the situation since.
This means that Affleck and Damon are not receiving one iota of cooperation from the former major-leaguers, which is understandable. Of course, they can always mine information from the usual battery of former teammates, team and league officials, and willing family and friends. However, there is a growing concern that the project will have trouble getting off the ground if the script – being written by Affleck and his brother Casey – fails to reflect the reasons why the pair made the switch, and perhaps just as importantly, why their wives went along with it.
So whatever happened to the parties involved? Peterson and his new family worked out; they’re still together to this day. Kekich was traded by the Yankees three months after the March, 1973 scandal broke, and ended up pitching in only eight more games before his career came to an end. After failed attempts to revive his career in the Japanese and Mexican leagues, he and the former Mrs. Peterson ended up going separate ways. Yahoo! sports blog Big League Stew reports that Kekich has gone into hiding and has assumed a new identity to get away from it all.
As for the film’s production, there has been no real motion yet, but it is generally assumed Affleck and Damon will assume the lead roles, and that Affleck will direct – although there is a rumor Damon wants that job. What’s particularly ironic about this pair making this movie, is that Affleck and Damon are lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fans – the Yankees’ legendary rivals. Could this be a case of Sox fans sticking it to their pinstriped enemies by dragging this story through the mud yet again?