Locker Room Affairs
The sordid history of the biggest taboo in sports.
One obstacle to shagging your teammate's wife is that you're usually on the road when he is. Indians outfielder Rick Manning cleared that barrier by cracking a vertebra in his back and staying in Cleveland while he mended. According to Terry Pluto's The Curse of Rocky Colavito, Manning convalesced with his teammate Dennis Eckersley's wife, Denise, while the Indians were on the road. Upon his election to the Hall of Fame this year, Eckersley told the San Francisco Chronicle that he was "devastated, really emotional" after finding out about the affair. "I'm most proud of that year," Eckersley continued, "winning 20 under that type of stress." Manning and Denise Eckersley later married.
One good way to cover up an affair is the old "we were rehearsing" trick. Pro wrestlers Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit, and Sullivan's wife, Nancy, a manager who performed under the stage name "Woman," traveled together on the World Championship Wrestling circuit in the late 1990s. According to a 2000 story by the Cox News Service, Woman and Benoit, known for his patented German suplexes, started an on-screen affair when Sullivan, one of the circuit's creative directors, decided a Woman scorned would be good for ratings. The affair turned real, and Woman divorced Sullivan and married Benoit.
None of these escapades come close to approaching the majesty of the world's hottest locker room affair. Yankees pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson first swapped wives in the summer of 1972 after a late, boozy dinner at the house of Yankees beat writer Maury Allen. That October, the lefties made the wife swap permanent and threw in the kids, dogs, and furniture for good measure. When the news broke in March 1973, the Yankees were besieged with mail. "Nobody was for it," a team spokesperson told the New York Times. "None of the letter-writers or phone-callers said, 'Good going, guys.' "
Yankees outfielder Ron Swoboda, who was at that first dinner, describes the spouse trading as an "early '70s era thing." Still, "it was so far outside the norm," Swoboda remembers. "It was beyond anybody's realm of reality—except it happened." In his book All Roads Lead to October, Maury Allen says that despite Peterson's insistence that this was a clean-cut "life swap," it "was a sex thing, mostly." The sex must've been pretty good. While Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson flamed out after a couple of months, Fritz Peterson and Susanne Kekich were still married as of 2000.