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This Day in Sports History: Joe Bellino wins the Heisman

On November 29, 1960, Navy's Joe Bellino won the Heisman Trophy. Hailing from Winchester, MA, he could have chosen a baseball career, having been drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school. But he yearned to be a running back and to serve his country.

As a senior in Annapolis, Bellino rushed for 834 yards and 15 touchdowns while catching another three touchdowns. It was enough to run circles around the rest of the Heisman ballot, beating out Penn State's Richie Lucas by more than 1,300 points.

After scoring his team's final touchdown in its 21-14 loss to the undefeated Missouri Tigers in the 1961 Orange Bowl, Joe Bellino was drafted in the 17th round of the NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins and in the 19th round of the AFL Draft by the Boston Patriots. He chose Boston.

After his four years of service in the Navy was complete, Joe Bellino went back to Boston where he was faced with the harsh reality that there is a big difference between college and the pros. From 1965 through 1967, the 1960 Heisman Trophy winner ran for just 64 yards, caught another 151 yards and scored his lone touchdown in the 1966 opener, a 20-10 win over the rival Bills.

After his football career ended, Joe Bellino continued to serve in the Naval Reserve while sticking around his adopted hometown. He would become a successful businessman in Boston and would eventually coach Saint Columbkille. He died on March 27, 2019 at the age of 81. Joe Bellino's number 27 is retired at Navy and Bellino Park in Winchester is named in his honor.

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