Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Friday, July 27, 2012

Cover design by Gayle Higgins

Last week I talked about the book, “Pietro,” based on Pete Denevi’s life.  I thought I’d run a few of his stories by you just for fun.

            Pete grew up in Los Gatos in an Italian community.  If you scrape away all the yuppies, you can still find remnants of those original Italian families in town. Pete had a beautiful plow horse that he entered in the Los Gatos parades and made money plowing all the vegetable gardens in his neighborhood when he was a kid.   

            Pete’s cousin was Frankie Crosetti, the famous shortstop with the New York Yankees.  Crosetti was known as “The Crow,” and spent 17 seasons as a player and another 20 as a third base coach.  Frank was Pete’s hero and became his best friend.  But Frank also became human to Pete the day he took Pete to the doctor after Pete shot a hole in his big toe with a 22 rifle.

            Pete didn’t tell his parents that he had a hole in his toe for fear that his dad would take his gun away, but his cousin, Frank, insisted on taking Pete to the doc.  The doctor took a metal instrument and ran it right through the hole in Pete’s toe pushing out the infection and anything else that might be in there.  Pete heard a crash and turned to see his hero passed out on the floor.  Watching that instrument running all the way through Pete’s toe was more than “The Crow” could handle.  Crosetti was out cold.

            It was through Frankie that Pete met Joe DiMaggio.  Joe would visit Frankie and they would both play with Pete, who was just a kid then.  Pete said he always felt important when he hung out with Frank and Joe.  They would sometimes take Pete to San Francisco to ride the trolleys.  Pete remembers he and Frank got on the trolley, but Joe wouldn’t climb on board.  Joe said, “Go ahead.  I’ll catch up.”

            Joe would then run after the trolley and leap on the cow catcher on the back.  He would sometimes get caught, but would just turn around and do it again.

            Many years later Joe introduced Pete to his new wife, Marilyn.  She gave Pete a kiss that he still remembers.  Along with Marilyn Monroe, there is a story of Lucille Ball kissing Pete after he helped her sell a motel she owned. Lucille’s lips were always covered in bright red lipstick and Pete had to use a sandblaster to wash his face.

            When Pete graduated from college he had to decide between playing professional football or baseball. He chose baseball and Crosetti and DiMaggio pushed for him to sign with the Yankees.  Pete had a chance to play immediately if he would sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which he did.  Injuries cut his professional career short.

            There are stories of when Pete helped Frank Sinatra make spaghetti sauce, visiting Bob Hope in his fantastic home on the top of the hill, being offered the opportunity to built recreational facilities for Howard Hughes, playing tennis with Paul Newman, between beer breaks, accidently knocking Pope Paul VI to the ground in Rome, being called personally by President Nixon, and other interesting stories.

            And, of course, there were athletics. Pete was said to have been the best athlete in the history of Los Gatos High School.  He was the same outstanding athlete at San Jose State College.  He was All-League in football and baseball, as well as a star in basketball and the heavyweight boxing champ.  Pete played quarterback all four years at State and his roommate and primary receiver was Billy Wilson, later to become a 49er great.

            I could go on with the stories.  As many of you know, Pete was my football coach and a mentor in many ways.  After graduating from college I went to work for Pete and developed and managed a small golf course and country club; I helped manage other swim and tennis clubs, and sold land for him.  Pete built the Los Gatos Swim & Racquet Club, Courtside, and many other clubs and golf courses.  

            Pete is 85 years old now and in great physical shape.  Once an athlete, always an athlete.  Somehow it didn’t work that well for me. We have been friends for almost 60 years. It was an honor to ghost write and publish the autobiography of my good friend, Pietro.



  1. Where is the book being sold?

  2. Ed -
    There are several stores in Los Gatos selling the books, but I have 6 books and Pete has some. You can call Pete Denevi at (408) 356-1232 and have him send one to you or I can mail you one. That may be easiest.
    Pete's wife is handling sales and sells them for $15.00. Postage, envelopes, etc. would add around $4.00. It's not my book, so I can't give any away, but I'll be happy to mail you a copy if you send a check made out to Pete Denevi for $19.00.

  3. Any chance that we could buy an eBook version?

  4. Yes. It's being published as an ebook on the Kindle thing with Amazon. Give it a few days.

    I'm trying to correct some problems with the cover photo and the format of copy inside. I've published three books on Kindle and had problems with all of them. The Kindle people are very helpful though, which is a positive.

  5. Thanks Ralph! Sales are going well. The shipping charges vary. The Kindle Edition is terrific and the price is right! So much better than dealing with old "Snail mail." You did a great job! Pete appreciates all your time and enthusiasm.

  6. Wendy ("Anonymous")-

    That's good news! I published the Kindle edition a couple of days ago. I didn't know it had "materialized" until you mentioned it. I was concerned about the photo of the cover and the format inside. I just checked it. Looks good.

    And to Pietro - "Congratulations, Coach!"