The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. V, Issue 3 - January 16, 2006 
•   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 5, Issue #3 - January 16, 2006
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2006
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844

Last week I tried a different tack to get the newsletter delivered to more in-boxes. Instead of the usual HTML newsletter, I launched an all-text email that included a link to the ezine which was already archived on my web site.

It turned out that this didn't have much of an impact on the ezine's "deliverability", as we had about the same percentage of bounced and blocked emails as before.

So, I'm back to the old format - but plan to archive the issue simultaneously with the ezine's launch. So, if no ezine shows up on a given Monday morning, you should be able to go to the Back Issues navigation button on to find the newsletter. It will be waiting for you there even if the original email ended up in your spam folder or somewhere else in cyberspace.


Please add to your "whitelist" or email address book program, so that you have no trouble receiving future issues!

Also, click "Confirm" at the end of this ezine to further ensure consistent delivery.


Joy of Bocce 2nd Edition

Click the link below to order an autographed copy from me. Shipping will be $4.00 (US Priority Mail). And please let me know how you want the book autographed (type the details in the "Special Inscription/Autograph" box provided).

Also, you can order an electronic version from the publisher ( ) at just $4.95 (you download it - no shipping charge).

Click on the image above to order from the publisher's web site or the link below to get an autographed copy directly from me. {If you order from the publisher's site enter Pagnoni in the box for Author = ...}


I hope you will like this electronic newsletter. To be deleted from the list, you can Unsubscribe at the end of this issue. We will quickly and permanently remove your email address from our list (we'll be sorry to see you go). But, be aware that one of our enthusiastic readers suggested that “…bocce and unsubscribe are mutually exclusive terms.”


P.S. Did a friend send you this? Sign up to get your own here - - it's entertaining, useful, and complimentary.

Order an autographed copy of the Joy of Bocce 2nd Edition

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

I stirred a good deal of email activity with my comments gently chastising the USBF for promoting the International game a tad more aggressively than the Open Rules game. My point was that if we get a large enough base of athletes playing open rules, some will naturally gravitate toward the higher levels and want to represent their country in International events. It's the "cream rising to the top" syndrome.

Mike Conti - Past President of the USBF set me straight...

"Enjoyed your 2005 review.

I hope there is not a misunderstanding about the United States Bocce Federation. The USBF's main goal is to promote bocce in the United States in any way it can. Its prime purpose is not to promote International Bocce only. We know our OPEN bocce is our primary game in the U.S. We went to great lengths to set up open rules here in our country. We traveled to the East, Midwest and the West Coast and saw how the open rules were played and not one area played the same. We came up with our open rules hoping to satisfy this problem. We would not discourage anyone who would not use these rules. I have traveled to many parts of the country to play open rules that were different than ours.

A comment was made that there should be more interaction between clubs. We support this at our National Tournament. Besides having our Tournament with our international rules, we also have a tournament with the open rules for all clubs to participate in. As you can see, we support open rules in a big way. Open rules are a stepping stone for future U.S. players to participate in international competition."


The current USBF president, John Ross also wrote...

"I am writing to thank you for your candid and honest view of where bocce may be heading in 2006. I would like to comment on a few of the points made in the latest issue of the ezine.

First: The USBF is not a member of the AAU. We were members for many years, but for reasons unknown to me, our membership was not renewed during the 1990s. In 2004, after taking office, I contacted the AAU's Pacific office in Sparks, Nevada, and inquired about renewing our membership. We filled out the forms and sent in a check for our membership. The national office of the AAU in Florida returned our application and check and informed us that bocce was no longer recognized as a sport by the AAU. They sent us a two page, eight point, item by item set of instructions on how we might have our sport evaluated and some day added to the AAU program. Needless to say, we had too many other ongoing activities to try and convince these folks that we had a viable sport worthy of their attention. As a matter of fact, our sport was recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1986, and Bocce was included in the World Games held this past summer in Duisburg, Germany, under the auspices of the IOC.

{Some have suggested that a good way for the sport to organize nationally would be to come under the umbrella of the AAU - do any readers have suggestions/comments on this possibility? Each bocce group could keep its own identity but align with the AAU for national events.}

Second: I was disappointed in your remarks which said that the USBF officers do not promote 'open' style of bocce.

{No, no - I never said such a thing. I quote myself..."But I think the USBF needs to put a lot more effort into promoting open rules play." Besides, I would never want to disappoint John Ross. He's one of the "good guys" of bocce.}

It would be safe to say that over 95 percent of our members actively only play open bocce. I can see where you may have got the idea from our magazine that we only promote 'raffa' and 'volo', and we hope we can change that perception in the future. Our members all over the country recruit and teach bocce on a daily or weekly basis. The game we teach is 'open' bocce. The international game is only a 'secret' that is discovered by the players who want to 'move up the pyramid', as you so aptly put it in your ezine. We do not push or force the international rules on anyone. We do not have our complete schedule of tournaments listed on our website, ( because the year is so young. If you check out the tournaments listed you will see that of the 13 listed, there are only two raffa tournaments, including the national championships. In a few weeks we will have most of our tournaments listed and you can see the percentage of open vs. raffa or volo tournaments which we sanction. Of course, the first thing we will do is forward the complete list to you so you can include it in your tournament update!

Third: We can not thank you enough for your tireless promotion of our sport. As a matter of fact, without your ezine, most of your readers would not even know that there are different ways to play the game! Everyone learns to play by one set of rules, usually open, in his or her home town court. It is such a great game that the little details should not get in the way. You have done so much in explaining the other forms of the game that without your ezine many of the issues you have raised for discussion would never have seen the light of day!

Fourth: There is a national forum. It is held each year at the United States National Bocce Championships. The "Nationals" will be held this year in St. Louis, MO from June 19 - 24. The exact date and time for the meeting has not yet been set, but we will let you know as soon as it is set. It might be on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 in the late afternoon. We would like to invite you and your readers to submit in advance, any agenda items you would like to see discussed. As you mentioned in the ezine, we are the only national organization with international recognition that promotes bocce in the United States.

{Yes, keep us informed on this. We should solicit input from everywhere.}

Fifth: Thank you, Mario! You have done so much to promote this wonderful sport! We can not express in simple words the impact you have had. Your thorough understanding of the game and your willingness to travel and report on that 'international' style of play makes you one of the heavyweights of the sport. I think you used the word 'professional' in the ezine in the fourth paragraph.

I don't know of any players in the United States that earn a living playing bocce thus earning the title 'professional', but you should be the first one named, because your efforts in promoting the sport are truly 'professional'!"


Received many variations of the following...

"Great Joy of Bocce issue for the beginning of the new year....thought provoking and excellent.

Your comments regarding the USBF are interesting. I've been a member of it only a year and I don't feel any real connection to them. I'm not criticizing them, I just can't relate personally, to what they are doing. I get the magazine and that's about it. You are correct about their international pursuit. Time should be spent here promoting the game... I mean it IS the United States Bocce Federation."


Pete Vescovo of Memphis, TN was one of many who weighed in with good ideas...

"I would love to see a bocce symposium or some sort of convention that we, as players, could attend.. not necessarily a tournament, but an event where there were displays from bocce product manufacturers, workshops on club organization and sustained success, master classes on playing the game from noted players and experts, and a chance to unite the game nationwide and have us all get on the same page (like they do in every other sport) as far as promoting and marketing the game nationally.

We have to 'modernize' the image of bocce and get the stereotypical image of it being a game for old Italian men out of the way.

Maybe the USBF could do some national promotion of bocce in other magazines. We should reach out to golfers, baseball players, softball players... they always make great bocce players.. it's the hand/eye coordination thing. Besides, they could be playing bocce in their off season and during the winter.

Musicians too make great bocce players, no kidding.

On my recommendation, our Memphis Club is considering building a bocce court at one of the Catholic High Schools here to introduce and promote bocce to the youth and then let them hold their tournaments at our club. It is still in the beginning stages, meeting with the school and the coaches, but I think that is where we need to start. There are tons of kids who can't qualify for the baseball, basketball, track, etc. teams, but anyone can play bocce and feel a sense of accomplishment. Varsity bocce is another area that the USBF should be involved with... I have some ideas that I would share with them."

{We've been promoting bocce in the schools hereabouts, with some success, but not what I would call resounding success. No interscholastic leagues yet. But many phys. ed. teachers are incorporating bocce into the curriculum.}


The following appeared in the Johnstown Democrat-Tribune on Christmas's the hometown newspaper of the captain heading up the bocce court construction in Iraq.


Soldiers serving in Iraq who have ties to Johnstown have built a regulation bocce court "smack dab in the center of the most dangerous square mile on earth."

So says Capt. Steve Jaksec, a former Johnstown man who now resides in Tampa, Fla. Jaksec came up with the idea in an effort to increase morale.

Jaksec, a communications officer, serves with the Army’s 110th Infantry Battalion near Habbaniyah, a camp northwest of Baghdad and in the heart of the Sunni Triangle.

Jaksec grew up in Southmont. He graduated in 1978 from Bishop McCort and in 1982 the University of Pittsburgh. Jaksec worked for IBM until he was recalled to active duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the son of Dolly Jaksec, who also lives in Tampa, and the late Charles Jaksec.

Ironically, when Jaksec reported for duty in Iraq, he was greeted by a Pittsburgh Steelers flag and knew he would get along well in his new unit.

“I was surrounded by soldiers from the Pittsburgh area, and I’m the same task force with the 876th Engineers and 103rd Armor, both from Johnstown,” Jaksec said in a telephone interview from Iraq. “It was like old-home week.”

The noncommissioned officer who serves as Jaksec’s right-hand man is Sgt. 1st Class Robert Foster of Richland Township.

In civilian life, Foster works at the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown.

“We are between Ramadi and Fallujah, two places that I’m sure most Americans are familiar with,” Jaksec said. “We hear gunfire every day, and a rocket recently exploded nearby.”

Bocce, a game that closely resembles bowling, requires skill, strategy and a little luck.

But building a flat, level playing surface in the middle of a war zone took more than luck. It required determination and a lot of help from folks back home.

Bocce is an ancient game that was spread by conquering armies.

“It dates back to the Greeks and Romans,” Jaksec said, “so we thought it only appropriate that we form the world’s first Combat Bocce Club.”

Jaksec and Foster pursued the project by sending an e-mail in September to the United States Bocce Federation, asking for details on bocce court construction.

They also wanted to know how feasible it would be to ship crushed oyster shells – the traditional bocce-court material – to Iraq to make a court.

“I get a note back from Tom McNutt, a true patriot who owns Boccemon in Bellingham, Wash.” Jaksec said. “He wanted to do the job right, so he arranged to have 12,000 pounds of custom-blended oyster shells sent to us so we could use it as our surface on the court.”

Boccemon is a family-owned corporation that specializes in supplying bocce-court surfaces for players nationwide.

Shipping more than 6 tons of oyster shells to Iraq was no small feat.

“When I heard this, I thought it would be a wonderful way to give something back to show support for our troops,” McNutt said.

He came up with a way to avoid taxes and red tape and to let bocce fans stateside help.

McNutt enlisted the assistance of bocce clubs and players from around the country and began shipping the company’s blend of crushed Pacific oyster shells for the court, plus balls, flags, banners, shirts and other supplies. All of the materials were donated.

Dennis Franz, who played Andy Sipowitz on television show “NYPD Blue,” and his wife, Joanie, built one of McNutt’s courts and sponsored some boxes, as did various folks associated with the federation.

McNutt discovered that the U.S. Postal Service’s flat rate for small boxes is $7.70 for less than 25 pounds. Shells are usually shipped in 2,400-pound bulk bags, but the cost to ship them to Iraq was far too expensive.

McNutt enlisted his own army of donors to pay the shipping fee for each package and sent the court to Iraq one small box at a time. About a dozen volunteers helped pack each box.

The packages trickled into Iraq until all 525 boxes had arrived in November.

A regulation bocce court is 76 feet long and 10 feet wide.

Oyster shell, fine stone and clay surfaces all are used in national qualifying tournaments.

McNutt said a good court should play fast, have minimal bounce and be easy to maintain. A bed of oyster shells produces the perfect surface.

“The surface at Camp Habbaniyah is the consistency of talcum powder, so we dug down until we hit clay, “ Jaksec said. “The shells make a great playing surface.”

The Habbaniyah Combat Bocce Club is an officially sanctioned and recognized member of the United States Bocce Federation.

Prior to its official grand opening today, some of the troops tested the court out after dark. They used night-vision goggles to see the balls.

“The guys are excited and we have big plans for the grand opening,” Jaksec said. “We’re going to name the court for a fallen comrade who we recently lost. It’s also dedicated it to all the soldiers of our task force who have paid the ultimate price.”

Click to view info on International Rules...

Photos of the week
This week's photos are from my archives - the 1999 Special Olympics World Games in Fearrington Village (Pittsboro), NC. I was one of the volunteer officials for the bocce competition and took hundreds of photos during the event.

I've sifted through the pics and posted 21 of them on a new Bocce Venues page. So, when you click the photo to the right or the link below, you will actually be going to the Bocce Venue page, not the photos of the week. This has the added advantage that visitors to the archived issue will go to the correct photos, not the photos of the current week. I'll try to do more of this, but it is very time intensive.

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
The Henselite Bowls Measure is a metal telescopic device not much bigger than a ballpoint pen. Approximately 6 inches when closed, it extends to a meter.

The Henselite is designed for inside measure, and for close ones at that. The player or referee first estimates the distance between the pallino and the two bocce balls to be compared. Then, s/he extends the appropriate telescopic sections to a length slightly less than that estimate.

Next, s/he places the device between the pallino and one of the balls in question and extends it until it almost touches both balls.

The head of the tool is equipped with a screw-top mechanism. Turning the top in one direction lengthens the tool, while winding in the opposite direction shortens it. This fine tuning makes for very precise measuring. Finally, the measurer places the device between the pallino and the other ball in contention, and compares.

Care must be taken not to disturb the positions of balls being measured.

The device fits in and clips onto your shirt pocket. It even has calipers for checking those really close points. It is the perfect gift for the bocce aficionado in your life. Like our other measures, it retails for $21.95 plus shipping.

Click to view more pictures of the Henselite Bowls Measure...

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 another hot item on the Internet these days...

Entertainment Centers

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 21, 2006 – California - Stockton. Waterloo Gun & Bocci Club. Open. 3 person teams (Team must include at least one woman). Contact: David Canclini @ 209-957-3314 or


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 4, 2006 - California - Los Gatos - Campo di Bocce - 2nd Annual Maureen Albanese Valentines Day Tournament - teams of two men and two women (REQUIRED) - round robin - Open Rules - REGISTRATION ONLY OPEN TO 16 TEAMS - $30.00 per player/ $120.00 per team - Continental Breakfast and Buffet Lunch included. Contact Ben Musolf at 408-395-7650 - USBF CARD REQUIRED FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS.


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


February 18, 2006 – California - Stockton. Italian Athletic Club. Open - 3 person teams. (Team must include at least one woman). Contact: Ron Jacobs @ 209-957-1223 or


February 24 & 25 - Tennessee - Memphis. Memphis Italian-American Society/Memphis Bocce Club (4217 East Holmes Road). Four-player teams - double elimination - $200 entry fee. Prize money based on 20 teams - 1st - $2000, 2nd - $1000, 3rd - $500, 4th - $250. Contact Ralph Galtelli @ 901-272-2124.

March 26, 2006 - Florida - The Punta Gorda ELKS Lodge Each participant must be an ELK (any lodge). Double elimination - four-person team, one sub allowed. $100.00 entrance fee. First, Second and Third prize money. 50% of the proceeds go to a charity and the other 50% will go towards the prize money. For more details contact George Farruggio @ 941-575-0482 or


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.


June 17, 2006 - Location & date not finalized - ABA Raffa Championships - 3-person teams - Crockett Bocce Federation. MUST HAVE ABA CARD - contact Dick Gomez @ 707-554-9916.


June 24, 2006 - California - Martinez (tentative date & location) ABA Open Championships - Open – 4 person teams - Martinez Bocce Federation/Waterfront Park - MUST HAVE ABA CARD - contact Traci Peters @ 916-456-7169.


July 15, 2006 - California - Fairfield - John Magnetti Memorial Tournament. Open Rules – 4 person teams - Fairfield Bocce Federation, 1200 Civic Center Dr. - Contact Richard Meccette @ 707-434-0190.


September 10, 2006 - Colorado - Fort Collins - "Bocce for Meals" Tournament to raise funds for Meals on Wheels for Fort Collins. Open Rules. Contact Valerie DiBenedetto @ 970-232-3028

Joy of bocce t-shirts, mugs, buttons, magnets, etc.

Merchandise still available at

Check out the first-rate equipment we offer. The finest measuring devices for bocce (made in UK by Prohawk for lawn bowling, petanque, and bocce) - the finest bocce balls in the world (made in Italy by Perfetta) and the number one selling instructional book on bocce in America - Check them out.
 Check out the merchandise