Showing posts with label Fritz Peterson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fritz Peterson. Show all posts

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fritz Peterson revisits the Horace Clarke Era in his new book

Fritz Peterson spent almost nine seasons with the New York Yankees playing alongside the likes of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford. Surely playing with those legends would have guaranteed the lefty pitcher a shot of making the playoffs at least once in his career, right? Think again.

Playing with the Yankees from 1966-1974, Peterson endured one of the roughest stretches in Yankees history, as the bulk of his time included pairings with offensive juggernauts such Jerry Kenney, Gene Michael, and Horace Clarke. The latter served as the inspiration for the title of Peterson’s newest book, “When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the Horace Clarke Era.

Peterson tells the good, the bad, and often the ugly about the myriad of teammates that went through the Yankees revolving doors of the late 60s and early 70s. The book is dotted with often hilarious nuggets about his Yankee brethren ranging from the aforementioned Hall of Famers to obscurities including Alan Closter, Bill Burbach, and Cecil Perkins. These inside baseball stories that he shares gives a glimpse into the hi-jinks that ballplayers often engage in without revealing the personal clubhouse matters that his former mound mate Jim Bouton exposed in “Ball Four.

Fritz Peterson signing a copy of his new book / N. Diunte

Each chapter is set up neatly for each of the nine “innings,” that he played with the Yankees. His offseason tales of his job as an adjunct professor at his alma mater Northern Illinois University, his contract negotiations with the Yankees front office, and his foray into hockey broadcasting serve as digestible buffers in between his narratives about the hodgepodge collection of teammates that comprised the “Horace Clarke Era.”

Listen below to hear Peterson discussing his new book and the likes of teammates Thurman Munson and Mel Stottlemyre.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Fritz Peterson was inches from bringing the American League to victory in the 1970 All Star Game

With Cincinnati poised to hold its fifth Major League Baseball All-Star Game tonight, a new crop of history makers will emerge from the contest. Some 45 years ago, the Queen City was the site where baseball lore was written when Pete Rose barreled over Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run in front of the home crowd at the 1970 All-Star Game. Rose emerged from the collision triumphantly in victory while Fosse suffered a shoulder injury that ruined a promising career. If one of the participants in the game could have taken one pitch back, Rose’s infamous moment might have never happened.

Fritz Peterson with Earl Weaver and Ray Fosse at the 1970 All Star Game
The American League had a 4-1 lead with one out in the ninth inning but with the left-handed Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants due to bat, manager Earl Weaver called down to his bullpen for New York Yankees left-hander Fritz Peterson to shut the door. As Peterson approached Fosse and Weaver on the mound, the Orioles manager was confident that the Yankee would do the job.

“I don’t know McCovey; he’ll get him [expletive],” Weaver said during the exchange. “I ain’t worried about him.”

In his recently released autobiography, “When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the Horace Clarke Era,” Peterson recounted his memorable experience with victory so close in reach.

“I’ll never forget my role in that All-Star Game,” Peterson said in his new book. “It was the ninth inning with the American League ahead by one run when I was called in from the bullpen to replace Catfish Hunter to face Willie McCovey with a man on first and one out. I felt pretty good out there since McCovey had never faced me before and I was pretty tough against left-handers, especially tall ones with big swings.”

As Weaver predicted, Peterson quickly had the upper hand. Staring down McCovey ahead in the count 0-2, Peterson threw his patented slider with the intent of inducing the Giants slugger into a game-ending double play. Unfortunately, a mere few inches separated his dreams from reality.

“I got ahead of McCovey 0-2 and threw him a slider on the outside corner which he hit for a ground ball base hit just past Davey Johnson’s outreached glove at second,” he recalled.

Still some 45 years later, of all the pitches Peterson threw in his 11-year major league career, his offering to McCovey was one that he wished he had a mulligan for. An inch off the plate to McCovey and a few inches closer to Johnson, Peterson could have changed the course of baseball history. One would have remembered how Peterson closed the door for the American League without Rose ever having the chance to run over Fosse on Jim Hickman’s game-winning hit.

“I have replayed that pitch thousands of times in my mind over the years and want it back for a ‘do over,’” he said. “I planned on throwing that pitch a little bit off of the plate, but instead got it over the plate and Willie hit it through the infield. One foot closer to our second baseman Davey Johnson and we get a double play—game over! Instead, the game went into extra innings after Roberto Clemente hit a sacrifice fly off of Stottlemyre that tied the score. Memories!”

Monday, June 29, 2015

Baseball Happenings Podcast: Fritz Peterson

Former New York Yankees pitcher Fritz Peterson was recently in New York at Carmine's Pizzeria in Brooklyn promoting his book, "When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the Horace Clarke Years." Peterson sat down with the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss his inspiration for writing the book, as well as his memories of playing alongside Thurman Munson, Mel Stottlemyre, and yes, Horace Clarke.

Follow Fritz on social media 
via his website -

Fritz Peterson / N. Diunte

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yankee hurler Fritz Peterson explains 'The Art of De-Conditioning'

Former New York Yankees hurler Frtiz Peterson has a simple, yet effective message with his new book, acceptance. Weary of the rat race to stay in playing shape during his professional baseball career, Peterson found peace within himself once he was able to accept his own eating habits and no longer worry about his weight affecting him on the field.

The Art of De-Conditioning - Lightside Books
Peterson’s quick and witty, “The Art of De-Conditioning: Eating Your Way to Heaven,” is an adventure into his journey of extreme de-conditioning. After finishing his 11-year major league career in 1977 that included time with the Yankees, Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers, Peterson vowed he not only wanted to weigh 300 lbs., but that he would never again run another wind sprint, lift another weight, or go on a diet.

Many professional athletes, after devoting incredible amounts of time to preserving their physical condition and restricting their diets in the name of increasing their performance look forward to the day they can hang up their spikes, sit down on the couch, eat, drink and be merry! This prescription of eating, rest, and happiness are cornerstones of Peterson’s call to action, all of course under the direct supervision of a physician.

Peterson, through a series of entertaining vignettes, encourages his readers to embrace their love affair with food. As a cancer survivor, he brings a sense of urgency to enjoy the time we have on this earth and not sweat the numbers on the scale, as there are other more important things to do, like finding a great slice of pizza!

For those expecting a baseball themed book by Peterson, one may be better off with his 2009 work, “Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven.” This current effort by the crafty lefty is meant to be an easily digested snack for those looking for a refreshing take on life.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fritz Peterson: Who needs a coach?

This week’s guest article is from former All-Star and 20-game winner Fritz Peterson. After the self-coached Bubba Watson won the Masters tournament earlier this month, Peterson reflected on his own experiences with coaching during his major league career.

“I don't need a coach.”-- Bubba Watson 4/8/12

“I didn't either.”-- Fritz Peterson 4/11/12

In golf, you are out there all by yourself. As a pitcher you are the only one out there on the mound. The type of pitch you throw is ultimately up to you even though your catcher can suggest a pitch he thinks you should throw. The ball is in your hand until you let it go at the end of your delivery. Bubba Watson chose his clubs at the Masters last Sunday and even though his caddy may have made suggestions, it was ultimately Watson's decision. On April 8th, 2012 it was Watson that walked off the course after the second hole of the playoff against Louis Oosthuizen with the green jacket.

Fritz Peterson / Baseball Alamanac

Who needs a coach? After Watson's father showed him the basic fundamentals of the swing and the grip, Watson took it from there. After my father showed me the fundamentals of throwing a ball and having an idea of where each pitch should go, I was done, in essence, being coached. Everything I picked up over the years was from experimenting on my own, not from a coach other than my dad until I got into college. By the time I finished my major league career, I had six pitches I could use effectively. Since Thurman Munson only had five fingers he had to start backwards and use his little finger for my 6th pitch. Jim Bouton did teach me his palm ball which angered our pitching coach because Bouton had taught it to me and not him. Bouton was not “old school.”

The odd thing, especially in the major leagues, is that every team has a coach for everything, but in most cases they do more harm to the players than good. The majority of coaches think they have to justify their positions (jobs), so they dabble with their players, sometimes actually causing them to over think, which can negatively affect their performance.

I know! It happened to me in my first year with the Yankees in 1966. I was privileged to be one of the starting pitchers on the New York Yankees where I was surrounded by pitchers like Whitey Ford, Al Downing, Jim Bouton and Mel Stottlemyre. All of them were, or would become 20 game winners and all had been an All-Star at least once. Our pitching coach was Jim Turner, a wonderful hearty man from the “old school,” in his ways. New ideas were taboo. You just did things like they've been done from time immemorial. Turner was a sincere man and truly believed everyone should do everything the same way.

I got to the big leagues with only two pitches, a sinking fastball and a hard sharp breaking curve-ball. My strength was that I could get both of them over the plate where I wanted them to be 95% of the time. Mr. Turner, in an attempt to help me, suggested I throw my curve ball like Whitey Ford threw his. Since Turner was my coach, I tried it. It messed me up. It cost me my real curve-ball for a few weeks, until I got "my" curve-ball back. I wasn't Whitey Ford; I was Fritz Peterson.

The point is, at that level pitchers and hitters know what to do. Coaching (especially over coaching) can do more damage than it can help. Bubba Watson is Bubba Watson and he knows it. Now that he has a green jacket he will be able to be Bubba Watson for a long time if he chooses to be.

My friend, roommate, and author of Ball Four once told me that Johnny Sain was the perfect pitching coach. He said nothing. Instead, Sain befriended his pitchers like children of his own. He didn't mess with their mechanics. If I had been a pitching coach, I would have been just like Sain. By the way, Bouton was the only ex-player who attended Sain's funeral. He truly was Bouton's friend.

The rest of my career (11 years) in the big leagues, I did my own thing out there on the mound. I did it “my way,” like Frank Sinatra, and now Watson. Sure, I listened to my pitching coaches, but without them realizing I was doing it my way just the same. On top of that, I gave them credit in the press because I knew their intentions were good. What harm could that do? The coaches were going to be there anyway, looking good with their little notebooks and clipboards. Besides, we’re all there together trying to win games for our team. Watson is his own team. Leave him alone. He's having fun being Bubba Watson and that's the way it should be. Who needs a coach?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fritz Peterson: All my friends are hurt and dying

After meeting Fritz Peterson at the 24th annual Joe DiMaggio Legends Game in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., we traded some e-mails and he was kind enough to share this essay he wrote about his friend, Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson entitled, "All my friends are hurt and dying." With his permission, I am sharing this touching essay as well as a photo from 1970 with Brooks Robinson as Peterson received the BBWAA's "Good Guy," award.

"All My Friends are Hurt and Dying"

Brooks Robinson and I go back to 1966. My first start in the big leagues was against the Orioles at Memorial Stadium, their season opener. I won the game 3-2 and got a complete game. That was the only game the Orioles would lose that month as they marched to become World Series Champs that year.

Within two weeks the Orioles returned the favor, beating me in New York. After the loss, I went to a pub where ballplayers hung out and met Brooks Robinson personally for the first time. What a gentleman! He actually told me that I was going to be around the big leagues for a long time. Coming from him that gave me a big boost, since I had only been with the Yankees for less than a month at that time, just feeling my way into the big leagues.

Fritz Peterson (2nd from left) next to his friend Brooks Robinson in 1970 receiving the BBWAA Good Guy Award

On January 27, 2012, I saw Brooks at the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's annual fund raiser in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. All the ex-major league players first met in the signing room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino before we went downstairs to one of the ballrooms for the auction of sports memorabilia to raise money for the hospital. There would be a baseball game the next day pitting the National Leaguers against the American Leaguers. Many ex-players were in attendance, as it is each year due to the great cause it represents.

When I first saw Brooks, he looked very weak and frail. He has been dealing with several health issues for two or three years now and it looks like they were taking a toll on him. I sat a few feet away from him and had a little time to joke around about signing autographs with our, “off hands.” He was a righty Hall of Famer that signed autographs left handed and I was a lefty that signed right handed. After the signings, we all went down for some food before we were all introduced to all the fans that were in attendance at the auction.

There was a large dais set up on the stage with three levels of chairs for us to sit on. Brooks was on the third level while I was in front of him on the second level of chairs. After the introduction of all of us by the announcer, we were all to go down to the main floor to mingle with the guests while they looked over the various items up for sale. When we began standing up, Brooks’ chair slipped off the back edge of the platform and he tumbled off the third level backward and then once more as he tumbled off the dais onto the main level in the auditorium which unfortunately had a hard surface. When we realized someone had tumbled off thru the curtains behind us and onto the hard surface below, pandemonium broke loose with players jumping off the stage trying to get to Brooks, half yelling for someone to get a doctor. He was badly hurt. Since it was a fundraiser for a hospital, the audience was full of doctors who just took seconds to get to him. It was sickening, but even worse when we found out it was Brooks, the nicest but most frail player among us that night.

During the panic that ensued, I was looking at Brooks, that sweet, wonderful man lying on the floor all sprawled out with his grey hair all disheveled. I just wanted first to throw up and then, more importantly just to go down and hug him and fix him. I wish I could have taken the fall for him. I have more “meat,” on me, and as of last week I found out that the cancer cells I had had for years were now “undetectable,” the day before Brooks’ fall.

Seeing my buddy on the floor made me cry.

While we were in the signing room I was also updated about Gary Carter, another beautiful man who is being eaten up by brain cancer, similar to other friends in baseball, Bobby Murcer and Dick Howser. That brought me to thoughts of two other baseball friends who died of heart attacks over the past few years, Johnny Blanchard and Tom Tresh.

It saddens me to no end about these guys, and there will be others, but I feel blessed to have known them and because as of this moment, I have a new lease on life. I intend on paying more attention to my friends and thanking God for every moment, especially for the little things.

I love you Brooksie! (He calls me Fritzie). What a beautiful man!

Brooks Robinson is a Hall of Fame 3rd Baseman. Fritz Peterson ended up with the lowest career E.R.A. of any pitcher in the history of Old Yankee Stadium 1923-2008.

- Fritz Peterson