CRAWLING GINGERLY toward big-screen reality — nothing happens quickly in Hollywood, other than Joan Rivers plastic surgeries — is a Ben Affleck/Matt Damon film production of the infamous Mike Kekich-Fritz Peterson 1970s wife swap.
The movie is tentatively titled "The Trade." It essentially is "Moneyball" with benefits.
For you kids out there who only know "Wife Swap" as a two-week made-for-TV deal, this was the real deal, lock, stock and peril. In October 1972 — though it did not become public until March 1973 — Kekich and Peterson, close friends and Yankees pitchers, decided to swap wives, and lives.
Kekich swapped his wife, Susanne, his two kids and a Bedlington terrier for Peterson's wife, Marilyn, their two kids and a poodle.
Let's deal with the most glaring component first: Who trades a Bedlington terrier for a poodle? Bad judgment, and a bad sign for Kekich; his new arrangement did not last long. Meanwhile, Peterson and Susanne are still married nearly 40 years later, buoyed, I'm sure, by having that terrific terrier by their side.
And let's deal with an obvious personal note next: I'd never trade my Toni, a.k.a. She Is The One (And Then Some). How stupid do I look? I'd lose her nimble mind and shapely body, her gorgeous face and great cooking and, I suspect, all the Tupperware.
After Kekich and Peterson swapped personal lives, their professional lives tumbled; clearly, both lost their fastball. Kekich had 32 victories before the swap, was traded to the Indians that season and only won seven more games in his career. Peterson had 101 victories before the swap and just 32 after and he, too, was exiled to Cleveland in 1974.
The day the wife swap was publicized in 1973, a Yankees executive quipped, "We may have to call off 'Family Day' this season."
Wow, how things change. If Kekich and Peterson swapped in 2012, the Yankees likely double-up promotion of "Family Day" and have Newt Gingrich throw out the first pitch.
(Column Intermission: My High School Team of Destiny, Springbrook of Silver Spring, Md., begins its road to a possible boys basketball title this week — three home playoff victories would get the Blue Devils to the state semifinals. I'll be rooting for curmudgeonly coach Tom Crowell and senior standouts Demetric Austin, Timmy Christian and Brandon Emery. And, yeah, that's my stepson Isaiah looking fine near the end of the bench.)
Of course, Kekich-Peterson happened pre-cable and pre-Internet — just imagine the news cycle if this occurred today; the endless chatter on how it would affect the Yankees' pitching rotation and their chances of beating the Red Sox — pre-Twitter and pre-Kardashian.
Speaking of which, how has the Kardashian clan not seized on this swap-a-palooza business? It's a slam dunk, if they put their marketing caps on: Kim doesn't dump Kris Humphries; rather, Kim and Kris swap spouses with Khloe and Lamar Odom. NOW WE'RE TALKING RATINGS, baby! Viewer-wise, "Kim & Kris & Khloe & Lamar" would make "American Idol" look like "Upstairs, Downstairs."
By the way, that brings us to "Wife Swap," an ABC staple since 2004. I apologize to women; it's as if they have no say in these matters. Then again, we're only in the 21st century — perhaps by the next millennium, the species will have evolved to the point of "Husband Swap."
"Wife Swap," naturally, begot "Celebrity Wife Swap," where last month somewhat disgraced pastor Ted Haggard and somewhat unstable actor Gary Busey traded mates for a week. You had to feel for Gayle Haggard on this one: The long-suffering minister's wife might've thought she had it bad, then one morning wakes up to find out she's being shipped to Gary Busey! Doesn't that violate some precept of the Geneva Conventions?
Anyway, even if "The Trade" is made — Peterson has signed on as a consultant — I doubt it can equal the glory of "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," the original mate-swapping tale that preceded Kekich-Peterson. That 1969 film defined my adolescence — I was 11 when I saw Natalie Wood in a negligee; I don't think I looked at another woman until I was 28.
As for "The Trade," Affleck reportedly will play Peterson and Damon would portray Kekich, but — who knows? — they might swap roles.
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