The Joy of Bocce Weekly
 In This Issue: Vol. III, Issue 10 - March 8, 2004 
•   Notes from the publisher
•   Bocce product of the week
•   Readers' feedback
•   Non bocce product of the week
•   Photos of the week
•   Tournament update
 Notes from the publisher
The FREE weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume 3, Issue #10 - March 8, 2004
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2004


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PLEASE – we are always looking for bocce photos and feedback from all over the USA. We want to connect bocce fans everywhere. You can email ( or snail mail (Mario Pagnoni, P.O. Box 608, Methuen, MA 01844).


Joy of Bocce 2nd edition

I'm working hard on a second edition of The Joy of Bocce - and simultaneously trying to land a publisher.

The new edition will have lots of new information and photographs. I intend to use some of the photographs that readers have submitted for our Photos of the Week feature. Please let me know if you have sent me photos and DON'T want them included in the upcoming book.

If you send photos in the future (please do), be advised that I will consider them for inclusion in this second edition, unless you tell me otherwise. Be assured that I will give credit to the photographer whenever possible.


2nd Edition Update

Over the next four weeks or so, I thought it would be interesting to chronicle my progress in getting the second edition of The Joy of Bocce published. If nothing else, it will coerce me to get some writing done each week as I report the progress here.

Here is my status report as of 3/8/04

Number of query letters sent in 2004 = 18
Number of rejections = 6
Number of requests to view proposal = 2

Writing progress report...

Chapter 1 Done - about 10% new material
Chapter 2 Done - about 20% new material
Chapter 3 Done - about 50% new material
Chapter 4 Done - about 10% new material
Chapter 5 Done - 40% new material
Chapter 6 Done - 20% new material
Chapter 7 Done - 50% new material
Chapter 8 Done - 50% new material
Chapter 9 Done - 40% new
Chapter 10 Done - 30% new

New Chapter – "Bocce Courts We’ve known and Loved" - still sifting through photos to pick best ones

New Chapter – "Organizing a League" - Done

New Chapter – "Best of The Joy of Bocce Weekly" - Done

New Chapter - "Bocce & Special Olympics" - Done

Stay tuned.

Do you know about bocce in the most scenic court in the South?

 Readers' feedback
{Publisher's comments in brackets}

Guy DeCarlo of Pittsburgh writes...

"Enjoyed your book very much. We are all going through bocce withdrawal here in Pittsburgh. The website is great. It is nice to see all that is going on in other parts of the country. I wish we could get better organized here. We are part of a ten team league playing on outdoor courts that are all privately owned.

The league has been in existence for 30 years. It has been hard to get any changes made as the guys are set in their ways. We play with pits at the ends of our courts and it was like pulling teeth to get a new team that used swing boards accepted into the league.

My team would like to enter a tournament but we haven't been able to find any in our area. Do you know of any? Will there be updates on the new bocce facility outside of Detroit? I loved the pictures on the website. Would love to see more."

{I'm glad you enjoy the book and web site. Tournaments are listed at the end of the ezine each week. People are a little slow in submitting them at this time of year, but there tends to be an increase in tourney action in the spring and summer.

Got this update from Tony Battaglia of Palazzo di Bocce fame...}

"Thought I should update you on the Palazzo progress. Construction is proceeding at all levels, we have installed the cement for 6 courts with 4 more to go. I'm very pleased with the flat surface that we have achieved so far. The interior walls are under construction, the kitchen is all roughed for equipment, the permanent heat and power is in place, the booths and tables for the restaurant are being built. We have had unfavorable weather but we were closed in just in time to beat it.

We have booked two large private tournament parties from people that love the concept of a party with an activity at the same time. Our courtyard area will house about 200 people with bar, tables, and four courts. We are also in the planning stages for a charity event featuring the coach of the Detroit Lions, Steve Mariucci along with Lincoln-Mercury. This event will host corporate teams playing with local sports stars and celebrities in a super bowl bocce tournament. This event is set for June 9, 2004. We will pass on more info later.

{Can't wait to see the Palazzo di Bocce finished. It promises to be a showpiece!}

I asked Guy for more info on his league and he responded...}

"We are a traveling league - we have seven different courts. Five are privately owned, two are at social clubs. The five privately owned courts are in five different back yards throughout the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. We play every Monday night, April through August. All teams play each other twice, once home and once away. We play four players each team, two at either end of the court. We have a play-off tournament at the end of the regular season, along with a picnic."

{I wanted more info on the "pits" at their court ends...}

"As far as the pits at each end of the court, if any ball goes into the pit it is dead. If the pallino goes into the pit, you throw to the pin, which is a nail in the center edge of the pit. Having played with both swing boards and pits, I have to say I think it is much more challenging to play with pits, because if you want to hit you have to be much more accurate. But I know the tide is going against me and swing boards are the future.

As soon as the weather breaks here I'll send you a picture of our court and maybe a few others in the league. All but one court are Ligonier Dust (very fine crushed stone). The other is AstroTurf. It plays way too fast - they are now building an additional court of crushed stone.

Many of our teams are sponsored by local businesses. We play for a trophy and a cash prize at the end of the season."

{These guys have it together! Send photos...also, any females playing in the league? Do any readers have experience with this pit and pin set-up? Would like to hear more - please REPLY}


Boccemon Tom McNutt sends this somewhat alarming tidbit...

"Last week we attended an established local tournament that brought folks from as far as 200 miles away. The tournament was well planned and most of the teams were good, enthusiastic players.

As we entered the quarterfinals it became evident that there was more than competitive energy being exchanged between two competing teams. Halfway through the game frustration turned to aggression. We had people yelling at the referee and multiple violations of tournament and conduct rules. No physical violence, but the threat was present.

Stop the music! What just happened? People who were sticking around so the Champions would have an audience to share victory with, determined it was time to head home.

Great day of bocce turned dark by visiting teams. The real sadness of this is that the local city council had just approved funding for several new bocce courts to be built. The idea they had been pitched was that bocce is good for tourism. Several hours before the incident the mayor and a council member had photos taken for a spread in the local paper. The person in charge of the project was in attendance and subsequently withdrew all support for the courts. Fortunately the Mayor had already gone home.

One strategy of bocce involves "getting into the opponents' head", but where is the line drawn?

The people I play bocce with play because it helps us focus on those things in our lives that are good. For example, the time to enjoy tossing balls with neighbors or complete strangers. With all that we have to do, bocce allows a break from the kinds of thoughts that create stress.

After every game I feel "lighter in spirit". Even without a glass of wine. Bocce is therapeutic in this way. May I recommend to those for whom anger heightens at the loss of a point, "it's just a point!".

I would like to hear from your readers who have used Code of Conduct forms. It is my understanding that more tournament sponsors are having everybody sign them prior to starting a tournament. Feedback? Anybody willing to send me a sample?

I realize that this is not a pretty side of bocce. However I hope others are addressing rather than ignoring it, and would be interested to hear about solutions (as opposed to incidents)."

{Yikes! This is distressing. On the other hand, there is no reason to expect that there shouldn't be the negative as well as the positive in bocce as there is with any sport.

Please REPLY if you can supply info about Code of Conduct forms.

I run a lot of sports programs, not only bocce, and it saddens me to see how some people change when it comes to the "big" games. In officiating, say softball or baseball, you can make the same, consistent call you made (all regular season) in the playoffs and get in a lot of trouble. People get testy in the play-offs.

We are wrapping up our senior basketball season in a week or two, and I need to decide if I want to have play-offs at all. On one hand you extend the season, and on the other you run the risk of guys getting carried away trying to win the championship. The majority of our players keep things in perspective, but a small percentage of "soreheads" can really foul things up.

One of the things that drew me to bocce was the comraderie and good natured competition. I wonder if tourney officials offering cash prizes "ups the ante" for problems with competitors (I prefer to offer the winning team jackets - encouraging novices to take part). My experience is that there are a lot fewer incidents in bocce events than there are in the more traditional sports of basketball, softball, baseball and hockey.

Tufts University professor Alfie Kohn wrote a disturbing book titled "No Contest", subtitle - "The Case Against Competition" (Houghton Mifflin 1986). In it he suggests that we often compete out of low self esteem. The only way we can feel good about ourselves is to defeat someone else.

I come from the dog-eat-dog world of college and semi-pro baseball and basketball, and I have no desire to go back there. Some of the guys I play with in the senior leagues (age 50+) tell me that I've lost the "eye of the tiger."

"Yep!" I usually tell them. "And I hope I never get it back."}

View "No Contest" at

 Photos of the week
This week's pics are again culled from the archives of past Photos of the Week. I am sifting through more than two year's worth of Joy of Bocce Weekly photos, trying to decide which ones to include in a chapter I'll call "Bocce Courts We've Known & Loved."

Speaking of pictures for this chapter…

I’ve set up the photos in a kind of geographic zigzag across the country, starting in New England and moving south and west. There are photos from MA, NH, CT, NY, PA, MD, NC, TN, GA, FL, MI, IL, AZ, NV, CA, and WA. If you can fill in the blanks with photos of other states, please do. The book will be much the better for it.

Also, I’ve written a piece on the “Kiss the Fanny” tradition (reprinted below) and would like a photo (rated G) of a picture or plaque or whatever people might use to observe this ritual.

If you can help, please do ASAP, as I am starting to suffer BPSS (Bocce Photo Stress Syndrome) and would like to put this project to bed soon.

Thanks in advance.


Kissing The Fanny

Pétanque, it appears, is responsible for the tradition whereby losing bocce or boules teams are obliged to “kiss the fanny.” Kissing fanny is the punishment for losing a game without scoring a single point. ALL players defeated by a shut-out have to kiss the fanny with the winning team serving as witnesses. This is why, wherever boules is played, a figure of a fake fanny is fervidly flaunted. Whether a painting, picture or ceramic sculpture, the unhappy losers are obliged to peck, in public, the usually generous cheeks of the image.

Legend has it that the tradition started in France's Savoy region. The first Fanny (a common first name in France) was a waitress at the Café de Grand-Lemps, circa World War I. A gentle and compassionate soul, she would allow customers who had lost at boules without scoring a solitary point to kiss her on the cheek.

One day it was the village mayor who had been “skunked” and came to collect his kiss. Reportedly, there was “bad blood” between the two, and intending to humiliate the mayor, Fanny stepped up onto a chair, lifted her skirt and offered him... her fanny! The mayor was up to the challenge and, two loud kisses echoed through the café…the beginning of a longstanding tradition...


This week's photos include...

Vol. II, Issue 3 - January 20, 2003 – John Ross photo.

The Villages, a residential community located in San Jose, CA.


Volume 2, Issue #6 - February 10, 2003

Punta Gorda, Florida. The courts are 12' by 60' and 12' by 75' with canopies over the ends. George Farruggio photo.


Volume 2, Issue #7 - February 17, 2003

Vidosh Landscape Center, Pontiac, MI – 90’ by 12’ - crushed limestone surface - Michael Grasser photo.


Volume 2, Issue #10 - March 10, 2003

The Breezes Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – volo style game using tennis ball as target (less likely to get buried in the sand) - Michael Grasser photo.


Volume 2, Issue #11 - March 17, 2003

Hallendale Beach, FL – Mike Grasser says "These two courts are 12 feet x 78 feet and have a Har-Tru clay court surface.


Volume 2, Issue #12 - March 24, 2003

Two 70' by 16' courts at the St. Francis Assisi Church/High School complex in Tucson, Arizona - compacted fine gravel playing surface – Mike Grasser photo.


Volume 2, Issue #14 - April 7, 2003

Courtesy of Guy De Santis of Anthony's Pizza and Mario Taormina of N. Pagano Plumbing.

They tell us that "The two indoor courts (heated for winter play) measure 70' by 11'. The sides of are made of glass panel garage doors (5 doors on each side). These doors can easily be opened for great ventilation for summer play. The surface is very fine ground stone."


Volume 2, Issue #15 - April 14, 2003

Cape Coral, FL - 70' x 15' clay courts - Michael Grasser photo.

View this week's photos...

 Bocce product of the week
The Budget Bocce Court by Bryan Mero

Bryan Mero (of fame) has created a very well crafted booklet on building a low budget bocce court. He's published it via the clever print-on-demand outfit CafePress.

It describes in detail how Mero was able to build his 60' by 10' court in California for less than $600.

Mero covers topics like...

Tools & supplies you'll need
Choosing the court's location
Should I roto-till?
How do I make it level?
Do I really need to use a lawn roller?
How do I level out the court surface?
What do I use as the mid-layer?
What is the top layer...crushed what?
Where do I mark foul lines?
What will court maintenance be like?

Interspersed with photos, drawings and personal notes from his own court construction experience this helpful little booklet is a definite "keeper."

Click to visit Ibocce's CafePress store...

 Non bocce product of the week
Softball season is coming!

Softball: Fast & Slow Pitch (Masters Press, 1990) by Mario Pagnoni and Gerald Robinson

In print since 1990, I wrote this with my friend Gerry Robinson, now an athletic director in New Milford, Connecticut. I have been trying to analyze how this title could have such amazing "staying power" (more than 50,000 copies sold). I finally figured it out…it's just plain good, and the competition is mostly just plain bad.

Some sports instruction books are written by big time college coaches who get a grad student to do the bulk of the work. The publisher slaps a “Spaulding Sports Library” or some such label on it, and the buying public thinks it must be good.

Very complete, our book includes chapters on hitting, throwing, fielding, baserunning, organizing a practice, team defense, offensive strategy, and coaching a youth league team. It even has appendices on fundraising for your team, scoring a game, and softball rules in plain English.

It is ideal for the player who wants to hone his skills, the parent who wants to help a child improve, and the coach who wants to better organize practices. A bargain at $12.95 plus shipping.

 Tournament update
{chronological order}

Please - anyone running a tournament - do me a favor - put a notice near your tourney bracket board informing players that they can go to and "opt in" for my FREE Ezine on bocce. Click the logo to the right to opt in if you do not already receive this ezine every Monday.

March 27 & 28, 2004 - 5th annual Southwest Florida Open Bocce Tournament. Contact George Farruggio of the Italian American Bocce Association of Punta Gorda, Florida @ 941-575-0482 E-Mail

April 17, 2004 - Second annual Bellingham Bay Bocce Tournament - Open rules - Bellingham Sportsplex Indoor Soccer Field - for more info see tournament link on or contact

May 15, 2004 - Ken Waldie SSC, Inc. Tournament. Lawrence, Massachusetts. Four-player teams, 12' by 72' foot AstroTurf courts. Contact Mario Pagnoni at

May 24, 2004 - international invitational tournament - looking for teams from the US. Contact Bruce Fuller, proprietor of d'Asolo Vineyards of Oliver, B.C. Canada (Wine Capital of Canada) at

May 28 to June 5, 2004 – United States Championships, Stockton, CA. Contact Mike Conti @ 847-692-6223 or

July 9-11, 2004, Bocce Classic X, Dayton, Ohio. Contact Dick Bloom @ 937-439-7936 or email:

July 10, 2004, Northern California Bocce
Championships, Martinez Bocce Federation
(Waterfront Park facility housing 15 permanent
courts). Open rules. Contact Keith Tate 925-370-0633 or e-mail:

October 9 - 11, 2004 - North American Bocce Championship, Montreal. Contact Mike Conti @ 847-692-6223 or


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