By Nick Curcuru
---- — Superior athlete, outstanding football skill, one of the best athletes to play at Gloucester High School, wonderful human being.
Those were just a few of the words used to describe Frank Destino, a former GHS standout in both football and baseball. Destino passed away last Thursday at the age of 77, but the legacy he left behind in Gloucester will not soon be forgotten.
“He is without a doubt one of the best athletes to ever play at Gloucester High School,” said David Harrisson, a friend of Destino’s and a former teammate on the 1951 Gloucester football team. “He was a tailback in Gloucester’s old single wing offense and he could do it all, run, throw and if he had to he could even kick. His speed around the end was unmatched. He was one of those guys that was just good at everything he did.”
Destino, a 1954 graduate of GHS, was a standout on both the gridiron and the baseball field racking up individual accolades in both sports.
Gloucester’s four Super Bowl appearances from 2007-2010 saw the school’s record book undertake a bit of an overhaul, but Destino’s numbers have withstood the test of time, as he is still amongst the best of the best in several categories.
His 208 career points (32 touchdowns, 16 extra points) was a Gloucester High School record from 1953-2000, when Adam Orlando broke the mark. Orlando’s mark has since been bested by Andrew Fulford in 2007. His 90 points in 1953 is also one of the top 10 marks in school history.
Destino was a starting running back as a sophomore on Gloucester’s 1951 team that tied for the Class B state championship. He only got better in the two following seasons under iconic head coach Nate Ross.
Blessed with blazing speed and an ability to get tough yards up the middle, Destino gave opposing defenses fits from 1951-53.
As a senior in 1953 he was instrumental in what was one of Ross’ favorite wins as he completed 9-of-11 passes, yes he threw the ball almost as well as he ran, in a 20-6 upset win over Wakefield. Destino also put together of the more impressive runs in a 1953 loss to Beverly weaving in and out of would be tacklers en route to an 80 yard touchdown run.
Destino was an All Scholastic player his senior year and was also awarded the Tom McCann Shoe Award as the most outstanding player on the North Shore.
He was also an outstanding baseball player as he was selected to play in the Hurst All Star game at Fenway Park in 1954. In that game the Gloucester High School standout went 3-for-5 including a home run over Fenway’s Green Monster and another shot off the iconic left field wall.
After high school Destino went on to play tailback at the University of South Carolina before being drafted by the Detroit Lions of the NFL where he made it all the way to the team’s final cut in training camp.
Destino moved to Watertown in 1966 but still made regular trips to Gloucester, where he was known as “the bread man” for delivering bread to nursing homes and police and fire stations all over the North Shore.
“I don’t think he missed a Friday trip to Gloucester in 50 years,” Harrisson said.
In 1990 Destino was enshrined in the Gloucester High School Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. Being the first GHS Hall of Fame class, the selection committee had a wealth of outstanding athletes to choose from over several decades of sports at the school, and Destino was a unanimous choice.
“He was in that top group with Ted Williams, Bill McLeod and Jack Webber, and he was a unanimous choice,” said Gerry O’Neil, long time friend of Destino’s and former GHS Athletic Director, who was on the hall of fame selection committee. “It was tough to get in that first year and he was a no brainer.”