A Yankees Scandal Comes To The Big Screen

I couldn’t resist posting this item from Nikki Finke’s “Deadline Hollywood” column today. It’s probably more movie insider stuff than anyone here cares about, but the gist of the story is….Well, I’ll let the article tell the tale.

Warner Bros Finally Going Ahead with Shocking Film About Yankees Sex Scandal

By MIKE FLEMING | Category: Uncategorized | Thursday February 18, 2010 @ 3:34pm

EXCLUSIVE — Thursday 3:34 PM: The Trade, a film that tells the true tale of two New York Yankees pitchers who caused a national scandal by swapping wives in the sexually-free 1970s, has finally hit the big leagues.

Ben Affleck has become attached to direct and potentially star in the Warner Bros film. Teammates Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich stunned the country when they disclosed in spring training 1973 that they were trading wives. Peterson had fallen in love with Susanne Kekich and his teammate fell in love with Marilyn Peterson. Fritz and Susanne remain a couple till this day, while Mike and Marilyn drifted apart.

Affleck and his former Live Planet partners Matt Damon and Sean Bailey have long been intrigued with the project, with Affleck eyeing the role of Peterson and Damon the role of Kekich.

Why has The Trade suddenly become such a hot property? I’m told a lot of it is the screenwriting work of Dave Mandel, best known for Seinfeld and  Curb Your Enthusiasm. Mandel agreed to write the project years ago, but it got stalled over life rights and other issues. By the time things were clear, Mandel was a well-paid writer in high demand. He agreed to write the script at the original contracted (bargain) price, with the understanding he would get to it when he could.

He proved worth the wait, turning in a screenplay that has the feel of a Hal Ashby movie. It made the 2009 Black List.

Though Sean Bailey was the project’s prime mover, he had to leave behind The Trade when he became Disney president of production. Warners will assign producers, a task that might well go to Affleck and Damon, who are bringing their MRC producing deal to the studio. Affleck’s Dazed and Confused director, Richard Linklater, recently expressed interest in directing, but now I’m told Affleck wants to work with Mandel on a rewrite, with the intention of helming it himself and possibly playing Peterson. Affleck, who made a strong first impression as a writer/director on Gone Baby Gone, recently completed the Warners film The Town, co-writing and directing the film, and starring with Jon Hamm and Blake Lively.

For a Yankees fan like myself, it would be worth it just to see Affleck, and possibly Damon, forced to wear the Yankees pinstripes. That has always been considered a potential obstacle for two die-hard Boston Red Sox fans and renowned Yankees haters.

I’m actually old enough to remember Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich.

fritz.kekich.jpg

And I can tell you that when they swapped wives, it made headlines around the world. (I can only imagine what the tabloids would do with the scandal now.) Will I go see the movie? You bet. A movie about the Yankees is a no-brainer. In the meantime, is there a Red Sox scandal I can write a film about?

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25 comments

  1. bklyntrolleyblogger

    That got my attention. the real life story always is one that made me laugh and I’ve jokingly referenced it once or twice, in potilite baseball conversation of course. Today, the sun would be blacked-out of the sky with all the vultures flying over-head. We’d be able to walk to Bermuda on the backs of all the sharks circling in the water. Sensationalism and scandal and PC will be the death of us all. I think that’s a movie even I will check out.
    http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

  2. Jane Heller

    Can you imagine if this story broke in 2010, Mike? It would make Tiger Woods fade into the woodwork, that’s for sure.

  3. junojen

    Ahhh… the good old days of sexual freedom! LOL! My first thought on this was the same as yours: Affleck and Damon in a Yankee uniform? WTH? This is going to be better than Knot’s Landing. I’ll pay to see it (rental only though).

    Jen
    http://faithful.mlblogs.com

  4. mhugill@verizon.net

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why I don’t recall any of this? I was 17 and a faithful Yankee gal. This certainly isn’t something one would forget yet I apparently did. Did I block this from my memory? Hmmm…..

    Like you said in the comments today it would be a global news event. From twitter, the internet, the so-called news channels 24/7, the TMZ etc. We’d be sick of it like we are of Tiger….at least I am.

    I will go see this and like you if for no other reason than to see Affleck and Damon in pinstrips. for some reason that makes me smile.
    Peg

  5. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    I remember when the news broke. What a scandal! Funny when I look at that photo of them. I used to think they were “cute.”

    Though shocking at the time, it really isn’t that big a deal when you look at it. Less than the Eric Clapton/George and Patty Harrison thing.

    And I hate the way it is referred to as “wife swapping.” You can’t swap something unless you own it and it also implies the women had no say in the matter.

    A Red Sox scandal you can write about? How about Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in the game?

    Melissa

  6. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Oh, and by the way, did you know that Fritz Peterson has the lowest ERA at the old Yankee Stadium? Weird, since I remember the Yankees sure stunk during the time when he was pitching.
    Melissa

  7. baseballisms

    I do remember this story .. And a similar one with a slight Red Sox connection, although it happened on the Indians (if a scandal happens in Cleveland and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound? – not in those days maybe but today we hear all)

    I remember that Rick Manning & Dennis Eckersley were good buds until Manning hooked up on the side with Mrs. Eck. I believe they ended up getting married.

    Maybe a screen play re-write would change the location to Boston and Fred Lynn become the foil for The Eck, who just might insist he plays himself in the film.

    Joe

  8. thefreak

    aaaaaahhhhh, the ole wifey swaperoony. Good times, good times. Must’ve made the judge scratch his head in divorce court. lol

    Very shag-a-delic baby!!!!!!

    ~Mike

  9. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Oh, this is just too deliciously hilarious. How well I recall my laffs & guffaws with Eric L, an ol’ HS buddy and Yankee fan, about Peter-son and Kok-itch…at least, that’s what WE called ’em…didn’t everybody? Being young & dumb, we coulda cared less about the wives (as long as they were both hot, hey, it was all good). But then it got way too funky when one won and one lost…ahh, l’amour…
    But How Great if they get Benny and Matty to play the roles!! You just know they’ll be wearing Bosox t-shirts and red undies, etc., during the whole filming…and who knows what else? The Yanks of the early 1970s were…um…
    unusual! Ah, those Horace Clarke Years. Why not celebrate ’em in all their free-swingin’ glory? Can’t wait!!

  10. jojovanb27@hotmail.com

    When that wife-swapping story broke, I was upset that Fritz and Mike didn’t call me. Back then I had a wife I would have traded for a couple of tickets to a Sunday doubleheader and two ballpark hot dogs. (Now, now, I’m just kidding. It was she who traded me in and probably did fine in the bargain.)

    As for Red Sox scandals, Jane, think cryogenics. If you can thaw out Ted Williams’ head, you may find some stories buried in the recesses of his brain that even The Splendid Splinter forgot.

    I don’t really believe they froze Ted or any part of him, but if they did, there’s a movie with no good ending.

  11. Jane Heller

    Jen, it’s funny that in the “good old days of sexual freedom,” even this story was shocking to people. I think people had an anything-goes mentality, but for two ballplayers to trade wives and families was pretty bizarre, even for the times.

    Peg, you must have blocked it out because it was too R-rated. lol. What I can’t remember is how the Yankees handled it. I’m sure it was a PR nightmare, although there wasn’t much else going on with the Yanks in those days.

    I think the difference between Peterson/Kekich versus Harrison/Clapton, Melissa, was #1 they were baseball players with supposedly clean cut images while the others were rock stars, and #2 that both wives were involved, not just somebody stealing somebody else’s girl. And you’re right: it wasn’t as if the wives weren’t complicit. They had everything to do with the so-called swap. Fritz had the lowest ERA at the old Stadium? I wouldn’t have guessed that at all!

    I have no memory of the Manning/Eckersley version of this story, Joe. Very interesting. I love your idea of the Boston adaptation with Fred Lynn. HAHAHA! And yeah, Eck would probably want to play himself. Good call!

    Very shag-a-delic, Mike. I hope they put all that swinging 70s atmosphere into the movie and show us lots of shag carpets!

    I do think it’s interesting that Fritz and the ex Mrs. Kekich stayed together, Dave. He wrote an autobiography recently and dealt with the “wife swap” and said they were very happy all these years and hardly ever think about the controversy. Oh, those Horace Clarke years. And yeah, I bet Affeck and Damon will put curses on their pinstripes before going on the set everyday.

    HAHAHAHA, jojovanb! So you would have traded your wife to Peterson or Kekich? I’m sure they would have obliged with tickets to every game at the very least. That Ted Williams story is so strange I’m surprised no one’s tried to tell it. It would make a great horror movie. Maybe Stephen King should write it since he’s a Sox fan.

    I don’t know if they’ll wear Red Sox gear underneath, Emma, but I’m sure there will be a lot of weird conversations during the making of the film. They’re going to have to steep themselves in Yankees lore and will probably hate doing it. On the other hand, they get to make fun of an era when the Yankees truly stank.

  12. jojovanb27@hotmail.com

    Reading about the Dodgers signing Eric Gagne to a minor league contract reminds me of one real Red Sox scandal, the fact that NO Red Sox were named in The Mitchell Report.

    Lest anyone need a reminder, remember that Mitchell had, and I assume still holds, an ownership interest in the Sox.

    When that report came out, I joked that the Red Sox players were so complacent, they didn’t even care enough to cheat. After later revelations regarding Manny and Big Papi, I was happy to change my charge to “cover up.”

    One final thing about that Gagne signing, I want to say I was saddened by the headline that brought me to the story. “Dodgers bringing back RHP Gagne” Here’s a guy who won the Cy Young Award as a phenomenal closer, and now the best the headline writer could call him was a RHP.

    Eric, now that you’re back with a National League club, I’m pulling for you.

  13. Jane Heller

    I was at a Dodger game when Gagne was in his heyday, jojovanb. His entrance in the ninth inning was a show unto itself. Talk about a fall from grace. Does he have anything left? I guess the Dodgers will find out. As for the Mitchell Report, it should have been called the Let’s Target Yankees Report.

  14. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    I love how everyone (myself included) talks about that time as “the Horace Clark years. He was THE MAN, n’est ce pas?

    There was a great photo of him in the yearbook turning a double play with his flip up glasses flipped up.

    Melissa

  15. Jane Heller

    It would be great for the Dodgers if Gagne recaptured the magic of old, Cat. And yes, any baseball movie is a good one!

    Isn’t it a riot how that era became known as the Horace Clarke years, Melissa? There were plenty of others on the team, and yet he’s always the signifier. Why didn’t we call it the Roy White years, for example?

  16. raysrenegade

    Jane,
    Is the working title “Good Women Hunting”?
    Sorry had to make a play on words with their Oscar-winning “Good Will Hunting.”
    Next out of the gate will be a Lifetime Wade Boggs and Margo epic about his pre-game chicken meals and his post game shenanigans wile with Boston.
    He did not act like that with the D-rays, his wife was close by then……….
    But some people forget those times were a bit……..well, morally loose compared to the heightened AIDS and STD laced moments involving the same activities today.
    I think I will wait for the online DVD or bootleg of that movie.
    Sorry.

    Rays Renegade

    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

  17. cdriscol@twcny.rr.com

    I told my brother about this and he was furious! The idea of those Yankee haters capitalizing on a Yankee scandal made him sick. As far as baseball scandals go, one of my favorite is that Steve Garvey’s wife Cyndy left him for Marvin Hamlisch. If you remember what Garvey looked like, what a blow to the ego for your wife to choose Marvin instead. I’m sure there must be dirt about Boston out there.

  18. Jane Heller

    Good Women Hunting. Nice one, Renegade. Actually, wasn’t there a TV movie about Wade Boggs? I wouldn’t be surprised. And do you really think things were looser sexually in those days? I doubt it, having just watched Tiger Woods deliver his statement.

    It was very controversial at the time, Elizabeth. The Yankees weren’t very good then, so the “wife swap” was all anyone in NY was talking about.

    It’s fitting all right, Mimi. Affleck and Damon aren’t about to make a movie that puts the Yankees in a positive light!

  19. Jane Heller

    I remember when Cyndy Garvey took up with Hamlisch, crdiscol. Steve Garvey had been fooling around with lots of women (shades of Tiger) and one or two were pregnant. I remember people in California were driving around with bumper stickers on their cars that said, “I had Steve Garvey’s baby.” What a mess.

  20. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Hey, Jane…
    Let me throw in one last little ‘coda’ to this posting, only because it is so apropos to the last postings by you-all…
    There was an old little joke from those bygone days — Wade Boggs, Steve Garvey, and Pete Rose all met up during spring training, and had dinner together. After a few drinks, they opened up…
    Wade Boggs announced: “Margo’s pregnant!”
    Steve Garvey replied: “It wasn’t me!!”
    Pete Rose asked: “You wanna bet?!”

  21. Jane Heller

    That joke is hilarious, Dave!!!! Bada Boom! Better than an Abbott and Costello routine. Well, maybe not that good.

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