This is how I remember Fritz Peterson. A smiling, happy-go-lucky ballplayer. And why not? When this Topps card came out, he had just finished a successful rookie year for the New York Yankees, finishing 12-11 with a 3.31 ERA and allowing just 196 hits in 215 innings. Unfortunately, the good times were few and far between as Peterson was a victim of bad timing, missing the team’s glory years as they sank into a miasma of frustration. He would go on to pitch another ten seasons, including stops in Cleveland and Texas before retiring at the age of 34.
But as we know, you’re a ex-player much longer (God willing) than a player and you have to find other things to do with your life.
Unfortunately, Peterson’s health has not been the best in recent years. This is one reason why he decided to take up writing as a cathartic exercise. All of his books have been self-published. His first, Mickey Mantle Is Going to Heaven, came out in 2009. (I met him at Yankee Fantasy Camp that fall and did this interview with him.) The second title, The Art of De-Conditioning: Eating Your Way to Heaven, was released in 2012.
This year, Peterson published When the Yankees Were on the Fritz: Revisiting the Horace Clarke Years.a memoir of his seasons with the Yankees spent most of their time struggling to maintain a .500 record.
I spoke with Peterson recently about this project and the previous ones.