Photo by George Silk//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Navy's Prized Halfback
1960 Heisman winner Joe BellinoOn Nov. 29, 1960, Joe Bellino was sitting in an electrical engineering class at the United States Naval Academy when he was summoned to the commandant's office.
"Of course, my initial concern was that I was in trouble with my academics," Bellino said. "I got to his office, and my football coach, a few officers and some civilians were there."
Instead of admonishing Bellino, the commandant read him a telegram from New York's Downtown Athletic Club. Bellino, the Midshipmen's diminutive halfback, had won the 1960 Heisman Trophy.
"I was glad I wasn't in trouble academically," Bellino said. "After that sank in, I was certainly glad I won the award."
Bellino, who grew up in Winchester, Mass., was interviewed by an Associated Press reporter in the commandant's office.
"After winning the Heisman Trophy, what more could you want?" the reporter asked.
"Well, there's another fella from Massachusetts who has done pretty well this year," Bellino said. "I'd sure like to meet him one day."
Bellino was referring to John F. Kennedy, a Massachusetts senator, who had been elected the country's 35th president on Nov. 8.
The next day, Kennedy read in The Washington Post that Bellino wanted to meet him. Kennedy's office sent a telegram to the Naval Academy inviting Bellino and any other Midshipmen football players from Massachusetts to lunch at Kennedy's home.
Kennedy even sent a limousine to the Naval Academy to transport Bellino and his teammates to Washington, D.C.
A photo of Kennedy, Bellino and his Navy teammates still hangs on a wall in Bellino's office.
"It was fantastic," Bellino said. "Of course, he was an avid sports fan, and we talked about football. We had other things in common, with both of us being from Massachusetts. It was a treat."
-- Mark Schlabach