American professional baseball pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB)

Date of Birth: 8 February 1942 Scout Day

Date death: 11 April 2024

Age at the time of death: 82 years old

Zodiac sign: Aquarius

Profession: Baseballer



Fred Ingels Peterson was an American professional baseball pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and Texas Rangers from 1966 to 1976. Peterson was a southpaw starting pitcher who enjoyed his best success in 1970 with the Yankees when he went 20–11 and pitched in the All-Star game. He was widely known for trading families with teammate Mike Kekich in the early 1970s. He had a career record of 133–131.

Peterson had the lowest ratio of base on balls per innings pitched for any left-handed pitcher to pitch in the major leagues since the 1920s.

Professional career

Minor leagues

After signing with the Yankees, Peterson was assigned to the Harlan Yankees of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. In twelve games (ten starts), he had a 4–3 win-loss record with a 4.43 earned run average (ERA); he struck out 80 batters in 61 innings pitched. He also batted .273 with one home run. In 1964, Peterson played for the Shelby Yankees in the Class A Western Carolinas League. In 21 games started, Peterson amassed a 10–7 record, with a 2.73 ERA; he struck out a team-leading 194 batters in 155 innings. He also hit .345 with four home runs. He played winter ball in the 1964 Florida East Coast Instructional League; he had a 7–2 record with a 1.68 ERA, striking out 45 batters in 59 innings.

Assigned to the Greensboro Yankees of the Class A Carolina League in 1965, Peterson had an 11–1 record in fourteen starts, with a 1.50 ERA, and 83 strikeouts in 108 innings. He was later moved up to the Columbus Confederate Yankees in the Class AA Southern League. He went 5–5 with a 2.18 ERA in twelve starts with 62 strikeouts in 91 innings. Yankees minor league pitching coach Cloyd Boyer was credited with helping Peterson become a star pitcher.

Major leagues

Peterson was invited to spring training with the Yankees in 1966. Yankees manager Johnny Keane was high on Peterson, telling reporters that he averaged three strikeouts for every walk in the minors. At age 24, he became the number two starter on the Yankees pitching staff.

He made his major league debut on Friday, April 15, 1966, against the Baltimore Orioles. Before a crowd of 35,624 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Peterson pitched a complete game, striking out three batters and walking none. The Yankees won 3–2, giving Peterson his first major league victory. Future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson hit a solo home run off of Peterson in the ninth inning, but he got Brooks Robinson to fly out to left and Boog Powell grounded out to first to give the Yankees the win. The losing pitcher was Wally Bunker. His first major league strikeouts were Paul Blair, Andy Etchebarren, and Bunker.

"Where the vintage pitchers like Whitey Ford, Pedro Ramos and Bob Friend had failed, Frederick (Fritz) Peterson succeeded yesterday for the New York Yankees. In his first major league game, the 24-year-old left-hander beat the Baltimore Orioles, 3–2, and drew an accolade from his manager, Johnny Keane," the New York Times wrote of his debut. Keane said: "Not many young pitchers have his control. That's his strength, that and his fastball."

In his rookie season, Peterson went 12–11 in 32 starts for the Yankees. He had a 3.31 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 215 innings. He tied Mel Stottlemyre (12–20) as the team leader in wins. The Yankees finished last in the American League that season with a 70–89 (.440) record. Keane was replaced during the season with a new manager, Ralph Houk.

Yankees starting pitcher

Peterson went 8–14 in 1967 (3.47 ERA, 102 strikeouts), 12–11 in 1968 (2.63 ERA, 115 strikeouts), and 17–16 in 1969 (2.55 ERA, 150 strikeouts). He had the best season of his career in 1970, with a 20–11 record (2.90 ERA, 127 strikeouts). He went 15–13 in 1971 (3.05 ERA, 130 strikeouts), 17–15 in 1972 (3.24 ERA, 100 strikeouts), and 8–15 in 1973 (3.95 ERA, 59 strikeouts). In 1969 and 1970, Peterson had the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in the AL. Peterson also led the league in fewest walks per 9 innings pitched 5 years in a row, 1968–1972. The last pitcher who did that 5 years in a row was Cy Young. In 1970 and 1975, he had the 10th-best win–loss percentages in the league.

In his nine years as a Yankees pitcher, Peterson had a 109–106 record, with a 3.10 ERA and 893 strikeouts. Between 1969 and 1972, Peterson was one of the most successful left handed pitchers in baseball; only Mike Cuellar, Mickey Lolich and Dave McNally won more games in the American League than Peterson did during those four years. He is ninth on the Yankees All-Time Games Started list, and tenth on the All-Time Yankees Innings Pitched list.

Peterson never played in a post-season game with the Yankees. "Mediocre at best," Peterson said of the Yankee teams that followed the Mantle-Maris era of the mid to late 1960s. "Pathetic at worst."

Peterson was named to the 1970 AL All-Star team. The American League team was leading 4–1 in the bottom of the ninth inning when Catfish Hunter gave up a Home Run and two singles. With runners at first and second, Peterson was called in by AL Manager Earl Weaver to replace Hunter. Future Hall of Famer Willie McCovey singled tor right, driving in Bud Harrelson, with future HOF'er Joe Morgan moving to third. Fellow Yankee Stottlemyre then replaced Peterson.

Peterson's pitching seemed to suffer in 1973 and 1974 after the swap, and he was roundly booed in nearly every American League ballpark afterwards. The Yankees traded Peterson, Steve Kline, Fred Beene and Tom Buskey to the Cleveland Indians for Chris Chambliss, Dick Tidrow and Cecil Upshaw on April 26, 1974. Peterson went 9–14 for the Indians in 1974, and 14–8 in 1975.

After a 0–3 start with a 5.55 ERA in nine games, the Indians traded Peterson to the Texas Rangers for Stan Perzanowski and cash on May 29, 1976. He started two games for the Rangers and had a 1–0 record when a shoulder injury ended his season. The Rangers released him on February 2, 1977. Two weeks later, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox. After his second shoulder surgery, Peterson announced his retirement from baseball on May 4, 1977.


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