The Heisman Trophy Trust mourns the loss of 1960 Heisman winner Joe Bellino of the Naval Academy, who passed away on March 28 at the age of 81.
The 5-9, 180-pound halfback, dubbed the “Winchester Rifle,” was the first Naval Academy football player to win the Heisman Trophy.
“The Heisman Trust joins the Bellino family in its sorrow,” said Heisman Trust President William Dockery. “He was a cherished member of our Heisman Family and will be missed.”
Born and raised in Winchester, Mass., Bellino was a three-sport star for Winchester High. He was good enough in baseball to be offered a contract out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he chose to play football for Navy despite offers from Notre Dame and several Big Ten schools.
After a year in prep school, Bellino became an instant star for the Midshipmen. In his three years at Navy, he scored 31 touchdowns, rushed for 1,664 yards on 330 carries, returned 37 kicks for 833 more yards and altogether set 15 Naval Academy football records.
In 1960, Bellino rushed for 834 yards and 15 touchdowns and scored another three TDs via pass receptions. He was a unanimous All-America selection and also the winner of the Maxwell Award. He won the Heisman handily over Richie Lucas of Penn State, totaling 1,929 points to Lucas’ 613.
In addition to his football exploits, Bellino was an outstanding catcher and outfielder on Navy baseball teams. He hit .428 in 22 games in 1959 and led the Eastern Intercollegiate League in stolen bases. He had a .320 average in 1960 and was the baseball team captain in 1961.
Bellino’s number 27 jersey was retired after the 1960 season. He had a three-year stint with the Boston Patriots after he had completed his four-year service obligation. He then stayed in the Navy Reserves and reached the rank of Captain.
Bellino was a 1977 inductee into the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and a charter inductee into the Maryland Football Shrine in 1984.
Highlights of Joe Bellino:
Also, enjoy this Sports Illustrated piece on Joe from the 1960 season.