Interview With Fritz Peterson, All Time Lowest ERA At The Old Yankee Stadium
By Brandon Cohen
on Jul 3, 2010, 9:45a
Fritz Peterson is the all time ERA leader at the Old Yankee Stadium, as said in the title. Peterson also had a career ERA of 3.30 and 133 wins. Peterson pitched in an all star game and was a 20 game winner. Frtiz is also known for “the trade,” in which he swapped families with a Yankee teammate and best friend. Peterson recently reached out to Pinstripe Alley to tell us about his recently released book, “Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven.” He sent me the foreword and within the foreword (which you can receive in an email from me if you’d like) Maury Allen says that the book is even better than “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton.
Peterson agreed to answer some questions about the book and his career and life in general. Here’s the Q&A.
Brandon C: Tell the readers a little more about your book?
Fritz Peterson: The book, “Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven”, was written to clear up a few things I had on my mind for many years and to give people a little look at what really went on in the clubhouse at Yankee Stadium during my years there. There are some really funny things that happened and some very sad ones. I even get to play God in the book. It is a good read and especially for true Yankee fans. I slam the Mets any chance I can.
BC: I’m sure everyone would want me to ask about “The Trade,” so can you give the readers some info on it?
FP: The “Trade” was something that was never planned by any of us. It just happened! The book clarifies the distortions that the media made of the situation and sets the record straight on a few subjects. It was an honest attempt of the 4 of us to “find happiness”. It seemed like it would work. I am sorry it didn’t work out for Mike and Marilyn but both ended up marrying very nice people subsequently. Susan and I have been married for over 36 years now.
BC: You are known as one of a select group of former players that liked Jim Bouton…why do you think he was so disliked and why did you not have the same feelings as everyone else?
FP: Jim Bouton was, and is a great person. Jim helped me when I was a rookie and taught me a palm ball (change-up). We had become very good friends before he was sold to Seattle in 1968. Many of the players felt betrayed by Jim in his book “Ball Four” as certain jokes were somewhat taken out of context by some of them. Mentally, Jim was more in tune with writers than ballplayers and many of the guys thought he gave the media more information they shouldn’t have gotten. I’m glad I was Jim’s friend.
BC: How did it feel to pitch in a Yankees
uniform at Yankee Stadium? How about having the all time lowest ERA at the old Yankee Stadium?
FP: Pitching in a Yankee uniform was a tremendous feeling. As I said in my book, “I’d rather have been on a losing Yankee team than a World Champion Met’s team” (or any other team for that matter). When the stats came out on the last day of the season in 2008 that I had the lowest career ERA in Yankee Stadium history, I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked! From a little suburb in Illinois to a #1 position in Yankee Stadium was more than a dream come true. I am still shocked–and honored.
BC: Do you still pay attention to and watch baseball games? If so, what are some differences between when you were playing and baseball now?
FP: I watch the Yankees on TV when I am traveling as much as I can. I am very proud of the team for the last few years. I can only imagine how Mel Stottlymeyer and I would have done on a team as good as the current ones! Nice job George!
BC: What are your thoughts on the new Yankee Stadium?
FP: I think the New Yankee Stadium is great. I did not like the renovated Yankee Stadium. It wasn’t the “real thing” (in which I started the last game in back in 1973). At least the new stadium is the new “real thing”.
BC: Is it true Warner Bros. is making a movie about your life? Can you give us some info about how that came together?
FP: Yes, Warner Brothers is making a movie about us. They have been after me to do one since 1999. I finally agreed to be a consultant in 2007 to make the movie more accurate than the sources they had to get the facts from. At this time, Ben Affleck will be playing me and wants to direct it as well. I think it will be a great movie.
BC: There has been talk of many unwritten rules in baseball. Are there any rules that stand out to you?
FP: There are several unwritten rules in baseball. The one that comes up the most is “an eye for an eye” where you “protect” your hitters. When one of your players gets hit by a pitch, one of theirs has to go too. I hit 42 batters in my career. Not one of them was by mistake.
BC: Everyone’s still talking about Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game, did you see it? Thoughts on it?
FP: I saw the replay of the “imperfect/perfect game”. Galarraga was very nice in not going bonkers but what could he do, it was history. Sadly enough, in the future, he won’t be attending any memorabilia shows with the other perfect game pitchers and will be forgotten very quickly. People will say “who was that guy who—-“.
BC: Have you visited Yankee Stadium since you retired? What were your thoughts when the old Stadium got knocked down?
FP: I’ve been to the new Yankee Stadium and was actually in NY when the Old Stadium was finished off. It was very sad and felt odd not seeing the right field wall anymore
Fritz also explained that the book talks about certain pranks and jokes he and his teammates took part in and which baseball players he looks forward to seeing-and thinks will be in-heaven. You can buy the book here
and it really is a great buy!
Thanks again to Fritz Peterson for answering the questions and being so curteous throughout the process. It was awesome getting to interview a former Yankee!