The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. IV, Issue 46 - December 19, 2005 
•   Notes from the publisher
•   Bocce product of the week
•   Bocce news & readers' feedback
•   Non bocce product of the week
•   Photos of the week
•   Tournament update
Notes from the publisher
The weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume 4, Issue #46 - December 19, 2005
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2005
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844

Hello again my bocce friends,

The Isaac Mizrahi Show (Style Network) was pretty good exposure for our sport. The episode airs several times this week, but it's too early to tell if it will have any impact on the game (traffic to web sites, spikes in product sales, etc.). More details below.

An interesting turn of events - on Friday evening I got a phone call from the west coast asking for my advice/input on how to run a bocce tournament. The following day I helped with a local tourney where they did everything just about the opposite of what I recommended. An "expert from afar", I guess I'm a nobody back home...details below.


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Bocce news & readers' feedback
{Publisher's comments in brackets...}

The Isaac Mizrahi Show is still airing the episode with Steve Schirripa playing bocce. It's too early to tell if the publicity will have any positive effect on our sport. I haven't seen a spike in newsletter opt-ins or hits to my web site, but...time will tell.

Mizrahi and Schirripa played only one frame, and that was about what I expected. That's the nature of TV. I had no idea that I'd be on camera. We were only there to deliver the bocce court and balls and teach them how to play before the show.

But, there is always a crew member with a hand-held camera following Isaac around. So, initially I'm on the screen just before Isaac says several times how much he loves the name But, if you miss the first couple seconds, you'll miss my big screen debut. Heck, I thought you were supposed to get 15 minutes of fame.

One of the production assistants who we had schooled well got the point across during the segment that "the red ball is closer, so green plays next." Hey, that's something, anyway.

It was obvious that neither Isaac nor Schirippa had played before. Schirripa made a couple comments that Mizrahi wisely sloughed off as stereotypical remarks about the sport and those who play it.

During the taping, the cameraman zoomed in on the scoreboard after Schirripa scored 3 points, but that ended up on the cutting room floor. Too bad, because I had taken painstaking effort to place conspicuously there. But Mizrahi made a point to thank "our friends from for providing this beautiful court."

I'm not sure about the demographics involved with the Style Network. Are viewers likely to be interested in bocce? One thing we know for certain...just about everyone we introduce the game to likes it. Bob Valvano of Gotcha Bocce (Louisville, KY) is right on when he says people either like bocce or they don't know what it is.

Finally, we got a screen credit - "Special Thanks to Mario Pagnoni -" - It flashed for about a milli-second - not even long enough to be subliminal.

Many thanks to the Martignetti brothers (Sandro, Anthony, Paul) for building the custom court, and lugging it and me to Manhattan. It was great fun to see how the show was produced, and to sit in the audience during the taping. The Martignettis and I were front and center just before the taping started. Then some production manager was clever enough to move us into the corners and let the young, attractive women take center stage. {It didn't take much genius to know that they had to get our mugs out of the limelight.}


Bocce balls used on the Isaac Mizrahi Show now on auction on e-Bay

I thought it would be fun to see if anyone would bid on the Perfetta Balls used on the set of the Isaac Mizrahi Show. They are brand new except for the one frame played on the Style Network between Mizrahi and Steve Schirripa. Four red, four green, white pallino and blue carry bag. Retails for $119.00

Check the listing here:


Recently I attended a bocce tournament that reminded me of something that happened years ago. As a Massachusetts Amateur Softball Association Umpire-in-Chief, I was charged with evaluating the performance of area umpires.

I was to critique a veteran umpire using a two-part carbonless form that listed the categories/skills that I was to rate. There was room on the form for my comments and suggestions.

The umpire's dress was sloppy, his mechanics awful, his judgment poor, positioning lousy, and hustle nonexistent. I mean the guy just didn't do anything right. There wasn't enough room on the form for all the comments and suggestions needed to help the umpire improve his game.

That's how I felt about this recent bocce tournament.

The double elimination event featured 8 teams playing on two courts. It BEGGED for round robin play where everyone would be assured 3 matches and still finish quicker than a double elimination tourney.

It was attempting to attract novices and only somewhat experienced players, yet offered cash prizes. When cash awards rather than jackets or gift certificates are the prizes, beginners and novices are reluctant to sign up, fearing “professionals” will be in the field.

Besides, aren't we trying to make some money for the organization? I much prefer jackets or sweatshirts because that will ensure that at least 8 people (winners and runners-up) are walking around town sporting your outfit's logo.

Many clubs like to give most of the entry fee money back as prize awards, feeling that they will make their profit on the bar. But that really only works well when the field is large. For example, The World Series of Bocce in Rome, NY might draw 100 men’s teams and 50 women’s teams. When you have 600 players in the venue, you’re gonna hawk some food, drinks, and t-shirts.

The tourney brackets were incorrect. There was a set for the winners' bracket which went from 8 teams to 4 to 2 to 1. This was okay except that it made no provision for teams winning one or two games then dropping to the losers' bracket.

The losers' bracket went from 4 initial losers to 2 to 1 with no provision for the losers from the winners' bracket to drop down.

For a double elimination tourney, just copy the brackets from a softball, baseball, or other sport bracket book. It’s not rocket science. Double elimination is double elimination, no matter what the sport.

When a player failed to properly place the pallino these tourney officials mandated that that team lose the pallino privilege and handed it and the first roll over to the opponents.

When the pallino is not placed properly on the first roll, the opponents get to place it, but the original team still gets to roll the first ball. The logic is that when you fail to place the object ball correctly, you lose the advantage of placing it – the other team can then place it where they want to. You still roll the first ball, because a universal rule of bocce is that the one who scored in the previous frame gets to set the initial point.

These guys had a "win by two" or "deuce game" rule. It didn’t seem to affect the play this day, but if you grow to a 16 – 20 team field, it could become a nightmare. Winning by two is used here and there around the country, but is not widely employed. It’s OK for informal play or maybe even league play, but is “an accident waiting to happen” in tourney play where you need to stay on schedule.

The court surface was a sandy, soft mixture that one organizer called "state of the art" prompting a participant to offer..."Yea, state-of-the-art quicksand."

They wet it down before play, but didn't roll it, then dragged it with a regular broom, taking 8 passes per court.

One referee/organizer decided that the red team had the winning point and declared the game over, moving the balls and walking to the bracket board to record the win. But, in fact, the red team needed one more point to win and still had the last three balls to play.

The official made a bad ruling declaring an unprecedented "do-over". No points scored.

Since the red team already had one point and had the last couple balls, it was unfair to kill the frame. The official's mistake penalized a team not at fault. Put all the balls back to their approximate positions (getting the other captain to agree on their approximate positions) and then let the team finish rolling their last couple balls.

If you must kill the frame, at least award the team the one point they legally earned, and continue play from the opposite end. In all sports we call this technique “common sense in officiating.”

They played the backboard live. These guys just don't get it.

The tourney director coached the players on what shot to take while he officiated their game. He might be correct, but it is just bad form for a tournament official to give advice or strategy during play.


Final and most important point. Despite these errors in judgment and poor planning and execution, the event was a success, and the participants had an enjoyable day.
It's a tribute to our game, that the ignorance, incompetence, and lack of savvy by amateur organizers can't spoil the fun. The game transcends such failures. Bocce aficionado Peter Picarillo notes that "bocce is such a great game that it rises above the most mismanaged efforts." Amen!



You can now purchase a gift certificate on line and then either print it and mail/hand deliver it to the recipient or email it. The end user redeems it on-line via PayPal by entering the unique code when s/he makes a Joy of Bocce product purchase.

Click here to view the button for Buy A Gift Certificate .

Click to view portable courts...

Photos of the week
Bocce on The Isaac Mizrahi Show

{Held over one more week as we have been fielding calls about the kind of portable court we built and brought to Manhattan. I hope to put a new page up on the site describing these in more detail. But, for now, I'll just leave the photos up another week.}

There's no telling who you can connect with if you have a web site that comes up readily on a Google search. The Joy of Bocce is pretty well positioned, and the folks at E! Entertainment found us with little trouble.

This week's pictures chronicle how we created and carted to Manhattan a made-to-order bocce court to fit on the set of the Isaac Mizrahi Show.

Fashion designer Mizrahi has a new show just launched on the Style Network (E! Entertainment), and it looks to be a good one. Mizrahi is funny and talented and, if the episode we viewed was any indication, he books terrific guests.

My friends, the Martignetti brothers (Sandro, Anthony, and Paul) custom built a 24' by 8' court and loaded it on one of their company trucks ( ) for the trip to The Big Apple.

We used white vinyl fence posts (hollow, but heavy duty) and inserted 2 foot timbers one foot into each end. That way one could slide into the next. (You'll have to see the photos to better grasp what I mean). These sections are light but durable and extremely easy to set up and break down. The only tool we used was an electric drill (a couple screws in each section - pre-drilled holes).

Mizrahi planned to play a little bocce with guest Steve Schirripa of Sopranos fame (he plays the part of Bobby Bacala). We got into town the night before and arrived at the studio early to set up and teach the producers and assistants how to play.

When Mizrahi arrived, the producers and I showed him how to play as well. The bocce segment went well. They actually only played one frame - such is the nature of TV. There wasn't much instruction on the game, but we got some much needed TV exposure for bocce. E! Entertainment is pretty big - so, there's no telling what might come next.

Without giving away too much, I can tell you that guests Steve Schirripa and Gail O'Grady were terrific, and you even get a recipe for Pasta Fagioli from no less than the chef at New York's famous Patsy's Restaurant.

The audience of 50 or so was made up of young women and the four of us guys. We were seated in the top row, left and right of center. But, just before taping, one of the stage managers may have said something like "Are you kidding? Move those four guys into the corners." So, if the cameras pan wide to the left and right, you might catch a glimpse of us. I'll be the portly guy with the bocce shirt.

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
Inexpensive Holiday Gifts

Outdoor Games Book & Video Series

I've located a gem of a series of Outdoor Games books by talented author Steven Boga. He's written short, well crafted, clearly illustrated books on...


These make for great, inexpensive gifts. I recommend them highly (each under $10.00).

Also available and great for gifts are videos ($22.95 each) titled...

Let's Play Bocce!
Let's Play Horseshoes!
Let's Play Croquet!
Let's Play Badminton!

Consider these for the games players on your holiday gift list. Will ship same day order is received (or next day if received after 3:00 PM Eastern Time).

Click to view more on Outdoor Games

Non bocce product of the week
{Hey, bocce's great, but I'm always on the look-out for all kinds of good products for my readers}

Here's one of the hottest holiday items on the Internet these days...

Shop at

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.


Please consider designating someone as "official event photographer" and directing that person to send snapshots for us to reproduce as photos of the week. Our readers love seeing bocce action from around the continent.


January 28, 2006 - Massachusetts - Lawrence - Sons of Italy, 155 Marston St. Four-player teams - $100 entry fee includes coffee and donut breakfast and sausage sandwich lunch. Registration cut-off = January 25, 2006. Contact Steve Zanni at 978-687-6853.


February 11 & 12, 2006 - Michigan - Orion - Palazzo di Bocce - Mid-Winter Bocce Blast - Doubles (2-person teams), round-robin format, limited to 40 teams - $150 per team, paying top 10 places. 1st & 2nd places guaranteed $2,500 & $1,500 respectively. Registration deadline is Wednesday, February 8th. More info... Bryan Sanborn at 248-371-9987 x13 or email


March 31 - April 1, 2006 - Arizona American Italian Club
$200 team entry / 4 person teams and $4000.00 first prize. Second place = $2,000, 3rd = $1,000, 4th = $500. Contact Pasquale D'Alisio @ 602-569-9149 or


April 22, 2006 - California - San Francisco - Orange Ave. Mem. Park - Triples (3-person teams) - Open rules - contact Alvaro Bettucchi @ 650-871-9278.


April 29, 2006 - Washington - Bellingham Bay Bocce Tournament - 4th annual charity fundraiser ( this year for Hospice ). Four person teams $20/person, 32 teams. Details at or contact Tom at 360-224-2909.


May 13, 2006 - California - Martinez - Debbie Gerow Memorial Bocce Tournament/The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Fundraiser - Open – 4 person team. Contact Traci Malley @ 916-456-7169.


May 20, 2006 - California - South San Francisco - Open -2 men/2 women - IACC - Orange Ave. Mem. Park. Contact Rudy Bertolozzi @ 650-583-9936.


June 3, 2006 - California - Fairfield - Women’s Tournament - Open – 4 person teams - Fairfield Bocce Federation, 1200 Civic Center Dr. Contact Richard Meccette @ 707-434-0190.

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