At 6′ 2″ and 229 pounds Pete Lingua was an imposing figure on the Holy Cross football team in 1935. Playing guard, tackle and end, he was a four year starter on one of the best teams in the East. His senior year the Crusaders went undefeated and were crowned Eastern Champions. Prior to graduation Pete was offered contracts to play professional football for the New York Giants and the New York Dodgers; offers he turned down to attend veterinary school. One of the letters from the Giants was signed by the late Wellington Mara, who along with his brother John, tried on three occasions to convince Pete to join the Giants. After graduation Pete was elected to the prestigious college all-star team receiving the highest number of votes in the Hartford Courant poll which selected the team. That All Star team played against the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions, gaining a 7 – 7 tie with Detroit. Pete also competed on the track team at Holy Cross, excelling in the shot put and hammer throw. Numerous newspaper reports chronicled Pete’s remarkable combination of size, speed and athletic ability.
That athletic ability was evident from his early days on the sandlots in Windsor Locks, helping the Windsor Locks Clay Hills defeat the Thompsonville Grays for the first time in 10 years. Legend has it that Pete and some other local ballplayers played an exhibition game against a team that included Babe Ruth on the baseball field that used to be located near the present entrance to Interstate 91.
At Cathedral High School in Springfield, Pete was a star on the football, basketball, and baseball teams. In addition to his outstanding play as a lineman on Cathedral’s football team, he replaced an injured player at fullback during a Western Massachusetts championship game and scored three touchdowns. As the center on Cathedral’s basketball team he was frequently the leading scorer. He was an All-City Baseball Team selection, at one point carrying a batting average of .667. Pete Lingua is still considered one of the finest athletes to attend Cathedral, a school that has produced more than its share of professional athletes.
After his playing days were over, “Doc” Lingua practiced veterinary medicine, operating the Springfield Veterinary Hospital, but he never lost his Windsor Locks roots. He was deeply devoted to his wife Ann and to his children, Peter, David, Teresa and John, all of whom grew up in Windsor Locks. His passion for animals, in particular horses, was inherited from his father who was a horse dealer and operated restaurants at various racetracks throughout the Northeast. Dr. Lingua was recognized as an exceptional diagnostician, at one point treating a horse owned by General George Patton who, like most who met Doc Lingua, became a fast friend. He was the first recipient of the Windsor Locks VFW Sportsman of the Year Award and dedicated his time, intellect and considerable personal skills to serving the townspeople of Windsor Locks on its Board of Education and many other committees. Dr. Lingua holds the distinction of not only being one of Windsor Locks’ finest athletes, but also one of its finest citizens.