The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. VI, Issue 37 - December 31, 2007 
•   Notes from the publisher
•   What’s in store for The Joy of Bocce and bocce in general for 2008?
•   2007 in Review
•   Joy of Bocce 3rd Edition?
•   Milestones/items of note...
•   Tournament update
Notes from the publisher
The weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume 6, Issue #37 - December 31, 2007
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2007
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844
http://www.joyofbocce.com (vm 800-211-1202 ext 4949)

Happy New Year bocce friends,

Next week's newsletter begins The Joy of Bocce Weekly's 7th year of publication. I had a bad year in terms of the number of weekly issues I was able to produce. There’s a kind of silver lining to this. I was busy running and/or participating in more bocce events than ever. That often kept me from making deadlines. On the other hand, I did slack off at times. I had some illnesses in my family and I also fell prey to my concern that I’ve written about in this ezine before. When you quit on something, like saying “I just can’t get an issue out this week”, it makes it that much easier to quit the next time you’re feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed. In 2003 I was able to launch 52 issues. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself. In the years since we launched in 2002 I launched at least 46 issues per calendar year. But 2007 saw a dismal publishing record of just 37 ezines. I’ve chastised myself soundly and am determined to get back to the publishing regularity of past years. Wish me luck.

As always, the only way it is possible to sustain a weekly of this nature is for subscribers to submit questions, comments and photos. And thankfully, this has been the case for the past six years. Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed in 2007. Your continued input remains the lifeblood of the ezine.

Keep rolling,
Mario Pagnoni (The Bocce Guy)

Have you seen the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia?

2007 in Review
{Publisher's comments in brackets...}

Each December I review the year’s archived back issues ( http://www.joyofbocce.com/backissues.ivnu ) preparing to sum up the bocce year.

The following quote has been standard “boiler plate” for the last couple years in my “the year in review” issue. It holds true once again.

“The past year saw a steady increase in newspaper, magazine and television pieces on our game. As always, writers and interviewers compare the game to shuffleboard or horseshoes. These comparisons are valid I guess, but bocce has a cerebral aspect that horseshoes does not and shuffleboard only approximates. Those other games are fine. I like them. But they can't hold a candle to our game.”

Tom Strenk interviewed me and wrote an article for Restaurant Business Magazine about restaurants incorporating bocce courts into their dining establishments. ( http://www.restaurantbiz.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22365 ).

{I love the idea of playing bocce at the restaurant. Heck, you could pass the time while you wait for your meal, or you could even play for the tab! One thing I'd suggest to restaurateurs is to "step up" and install the kind of playing surface at places like the Palazzo di Bocce and Campo di Bocce of Livermore - a poured liquid (polymer) that levels and solidifies. You're not "playing in the dirt" any more. Your hands are clean...you eat...you drink...life is good!}

One of the problems associated with playing bocce in a restaurant/bar is the chance that the pallino might get knocked into the crowd and land in someone’s dinner plate. Il Vagabondo (Manhattan - http://www.joyofbocce.com/Vagabondo.ivnu ) solves the problem by using a stationary metal washer as the target. Michael Grasser of DaVinciBocce.com has another solution. He started offering stainless steel pallinos which are much heavier (international size – approx. 40 mm, but 283 g compared to the usual 120 g). These are much less likely to get knocked out of the court. View here: http://site.mawebcenters.com/michaelbgrasserandassociates/catalog_i6271501.html?catId=19079

View Grasser’s larger (48 mm X 436 g) stainless steel pallino here: http://site.mawebcenters.com/michaelbgrasserandassociates/catalog_i6320169.html?catId=19079

Other 2007 articles/films…

Lisa Hoppenjans (Chapel Hill, NC) wrote this one... http://www.newsobserver.com/news/orange/story/636972.html

Kayleen Schaefer wrote about beach bocce for the NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/fashion/16bocce.html?pagewanted=print

{My favorite beach bocce sound bites are from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina’s Gene Youtsey and Don Allen. They play on the beach at low tide, tossing the pallino out in any direction and getting their daily exercise walking through tidal pools and sand bars.

Gene: “It beats the hell out of golf - don't cost nothin."
Don: "And our groundskeeper comes in twice a day."
Gene: "We learn to play with great powers of concentration... good looking women in bikinis everywhere."}

Gail Terp is writing a children's book with bocce in the mix...

"I have been busy studying your book, a wonderful read. I am just starting to write the chapter in which my main character, Anna, is introduced to bocce by her grandfather and feel that I really need some first-hand knowledge." {Gail is hard at work learning to play bocce and we look forward to the book’s release.}

Talented film-maker Stepanie Foerster’s Watch the Pallino was released: http://www.watchthepallino.com

This 42-minute film is a documentary telling the story of Italian immigrants coming to Toluca, Illinois to find a better life and passing through customs with the game of bocce in tow. A big Labor Day bocce tournament is the backdrop for the film (big as in a couple hundred two-player teams).

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Old friend Art Bjork (State Bocce Director - Special Olympics Florida) attended the Special Olympics World Games in Shanghai and sent these photos: http://www.joyofbocce.com/China2007.ivnu

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In 2007 the Joy of Bocce formed an LLC and officially got into the court building business… court construction business http://www.joyofbocce.com/CourtConstruction.ivnu

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The nationals were held in the fabulous new Campo di Bocce of Livermore venue http://www.joyofbocce.com/Nationals2007.ivnu . Mike Grasser ran his “America's Pallino D’oro (TM)” coinciding with the nationals at Livermore.

“Bocce Bum” Ben Musolf noted that at the time of the Campo di Bocce Livermore opening the Los Gatos venue had been operating for ten years.

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Some interesting new pages posted on the Joy of Bocce web site…

Bocce for the blind: http://www.joyofbocce.com/Natick.ivnu
Senior Olympics: http://www.joyofbocce.com/seniorgames.ivnu
Bocce auction: http://www.joyofbocce.com/Auction.ivnu
Lakes Region, NH bocce: http://www.joyofbocce.com/rockyledge.ivnu
Evolution of indoor temporary courts: http://www.joyofbocce.com/setup.ivnu
Getting your team/league to the next level: http://www.joyofbocce.com/Sponsors.ivnu

Streamline your tourney with color-coding ID tags...

Milestones/items of note...
In 2007 I saw an increase in bocce activity in my neighborhood (New England is always last to catch up on any national trends). I did a lot more public speaking and attended more bocce events and fundraisers. Nationally, I saw a 30% increase the # of web site visitors. My friend Tom Grella, a financial advisor and bocce aficionado wants to be my web site’s first paid advertiser. Not sure I want to go that route yet, but am taking it under advisement.

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CafePress finally adds BOCCE to its list of sports.

CafePress, the online outfit that lets you upload your logo, place it on mugs, t-shirts, etc. and sell the items finally "gets it".

Thanks to all of you who helped get the message to the people at CafePress. You may recall the problem described here some time ago.

CafePress sends promotional emails targeting specific events - e.g. like hawking items of apparel that have a Father's Day theme. In the email margins are always links to dozens of different categories for apparel. When you click on "sports" you get every sport imaginable except bocce.

After many phone calls and emails, you and I finally got them to include bocce as one of the sports. They had lots of CafePress shops with bocce items (including http://www.CafePress.com/JoyofBocce ) and they were familiar with the sport, even indicating that they played on site during their lunch hours. They just didn't associate bocce as a sport - part of the image problem that we still battle.

We've broken through. They have us listed as "bocce ball", not "bocce", but at least we are on the radar screen! This is a small victory to be sure. But, it is precisely this kind of tiny battle we need to continuously win to get bocce to the mainstream.

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Drive to get Bocce to the Senior Games in 2009

{This is the next small battle we need to win - maybe not so small a skirmish}

Bocce is a senior game event in many states (i.e. Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida) but is not yet at the national level.

There is a National Games committee that reviews the process of adding new sports to the Summer Games. I was able to coax my friend Carl Fetteroll of the Massachusetts Senior Games to put in a formal request that bocce be considered.

If you know of Senior Games officials in your state, please have them do the same. The request should go to:

Ray Hoyt
Director of National Games and Athlete Relations
National Senior Games Association
PO Box 82059
Baton Rouge, LA 70844-2059
rhoyt@nsga.com

If we can get the games recognized, that would mean that 2008 would be a qualifying year and 2009 we could compete in the "Senior Olympics" in San Francisco, CA. This would go a long way toward getting our sport the notoriety it deserves. Send an email - send a letter - offer to host a qualifier in your state if there is none. Bocce is headed to the mainstream. It just needs a little push from people like you and me.

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The "powers that be" at the United States Bocce Federation have been after me to join the board but I have preferred to stay neutral, like Switzerland, in the bocce wars. But, it just makes sense to jump on board the USBF’s bandwagon. After all, they are the governing body for bocce in America. My first suggestion is to add that line, "The Governing Body of Bocce in America" to all USBF letterhead and correspondence.

So, I became the Eastern Sector’s Vice-President. I'm looking forward to helping the sport and the USBF grow.

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The Next Food Network Star

One of our bocce posse here in Methuen, Massachusetts was a contestant on The Next Food Network Star (one of eleven on the show - selected from 3000 applicants).

The eventual winner (not our boy) got his own TV cooking show on the Food Network.

Tom Grella Jr. is a great guy, a solid bocce player, and an excellent cook with the big personality that TV audiences love. The demo reel that he submitted as an audition was made as he cooked for one of our bocce nights. He is using the notoriety he gained from the TV exposure to raise funds for charities and to promote bocce at the same time.

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We're ran our annual Martignetti Family Charity Bocce Tournament on October 7, 2007 and raised about $40,000 for Alzheimer's Research.

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One problem addressed...

To combat this ezine's "email deliverability" problem, I've taken to archiving each ezine right after I launch it. So, even if the newsletter doesn't show up in your in-box on Monday morning, you're able to go to JoyofBocce.com, click on Back Issues, and open up the current week's ezine.

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Another good solution...

Previously, we had a problem with viewing photos of the week via the archives, because clicking on the photos might open up the current week's photos instead of the ones you were looking for. I had been replacing the photos each week as I didn't want my web site to get too large and cumbersome. If I add a new page every week the site could grow by more than 50 pages per year. The site is already more than 120 meg which is pretty large (most people's sites don't approach 50 meg). So, I placed the photos on the same page each week, simply replacing the old ones with the new ones.

In 2007, I added a new page each week for the issue's photos. This was more work for me, but made the pictures available via the archived back issues.

View last week's photos

What’s in store for The Joy of Bocce and bocce in general for 2008?
For me personally it will be more of the same. My dad used to say, "If you hit the nail on the head enough times, sooner or later it goes into the wood." I'll keep banging away trying to establish myself as The Bocce Guy.

I want to do more bocce corporate outings - a great way for me to maximize my time in terms of exposing the game to a large number of people. I have a big one scheduled for February on the grounds of a mansion in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. If you can recommend me to a person or company, please do so. Have Bocce, Will Travel.

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I have an idea (more of an inkling than a prediction) that 2008 will be a big one for bocce. I need to "tweak" the web site this year. It needs to have some important pages added and it needs to be easier to navigate and to come up higher in search engine rankings for terms other than just the word "bocce."

On the down side...

Still haven't got a sports complex builder to go along with my idea for portable bocce courts.

The concept I pitched the facility builders is this...why not have the frames for bocce courts hoisted to the rafters and out of the way and only lowered for bocce play? I have been envisioning this since I coached baseball at our local high school. For Spring indoor practice in the field house, I'd push a button to lower the batting cage, then push the same button to raise it after practice to get it out of the way of the next day's physical education classes.

An arrangement like this for bocce would mean virtually no set-up time. The incoming bocce group could run their event and then clear out for the next group of indoor soccer or lacrosse players who come in next.

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Still not much bocce in the schools hereabouts. No club teams or interscholastic leagues yet. But many phys. ed. teachers are incorporating bocce into the curriculum.

Most important: still no big time TV exposure for the game.

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I’m learning about blogging (slowly and painfully) and may launch a bocce blog. I’ve purchased the domain name bocceguy.com for that purpose. But, I think my time is better spent elsewhere right now - no blog for 2008.

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Trouble with bocce ball quality

There was controversy in the NYC Bocce Championships and in Bocce USA (Illinois)

The NYC Parks Department reaches out for sponsors and Sportscraft usually donates a set of balls for each park that hosts elimination rounds. According to bocce aficionado and USBF Eastern Sector President Peter Rabito "...the balls used this time around just didn't measure up."

Players complained that they wouldn't roll straight, arguing that they were improperly weighted. One player described the balls as "lopsided" claiming that one almost made a "U-Turn" in mid roll.

Rabito reports that one ball was hit hard and actually split in two. Upon examination of the two shattered pieces, it was clear via cross section that the material coating the insides of the ball was not uniform in thickness.

Bocce Bob Whitlow had a similar problem with faulty bocce balls...

"After play started, players began to complain that the balls where not rolling straight and were curving to the left or right at the end of the roll. Players were missing their target by as much as three feet.

They (balls) rolled like they were magnetized or jinxed.

After a detailed examination of the two sets, it was determined that the balls were actually out of balance and the weighted side of each ball was making the ball curve as they slowed."

Top American players tell me that many bocce balls sold in department and sporting goods stores are made in China and not manufactured to the rigorous standards of Italian companies like Perfetta and Super Martel.

To be fair, even the finest Italian-made balls can suffer from quality control. This was apparently a problem a year or two ago with many, if not all the Italian bocce manufacturers as they evidently purchase the high grade plastics from the same vendor.

Bob Parella, who manufactures the EPCO line of bocce balls here in America weighed in...

"This is a very interesting conversation! Many year ago, the 4 1/2" dia. and 5" dia. bocce balls, ironically, made by Perfetta from Torino, Italy, were imported to this country to be used in candlepin and duckpin bowling centers. These balls did not stand up to the severe pounding they received and bowling centers did not like them. They nicked etc. and also had the balance problems that were referred to in your recent article. Our bocce balls are not made of the exact materials as bowling balls. In addition, we manufacture a very large assortment of different balls for a very large assortment of uses, for which the durability factor must be very high.

I do know that, although we feel our balls do not nick any more that other balls, they may show the nicks more due to the type of materials used. Please note that, in some countries, some chemicals are permitted that are prohibited to be used in the USA, due to their hazards for health reasons. I can not tell you that we have never had a ball split or severely chipped, especially if they made contact with sharp objects such as sharp rocks in the ground or other foreign matter that may be in the playing area, but of the many, many thousands of sets we sell each year, I believe we do receive back, or hear complaints from customers about fewer that 2-3 each year. Please note also, that the delivery of bowling balls is much greater that that of bocce. Also, bowling balls fly all over the pin area and come into contact with all kinds of gears, screws and sharp metal in the pinsetters.

I hope this gives a small explanation from our end. I can not address, 100%, bocce players comments, but thanks for this opportunity."

Click here and then scroll down to view the embroidered Joy of Bocce shirt...

Joy of Bocce 3rd Edition?
I have a pretty good deal of experience with traditional publishing houses, having published 5 books that went through about 10 different publishers. I thought that there was a good chance that a big outfit might pick up the Joy of Bocce 2nd Edition once it was on the bookstore shelves for a year or so. This hasn’t been the case and I think there are two reasons.

First, there still is this sense among publishers and especially book acquisitions editors that bocce is a relatively obscure sport, enjoyed by only a small number of fanatical aficionados. While the sport is still a ways from the mainstream, it is not nearly as obscure as the publishing industry suspects. In addition, the signs of its growth are evident everywhere and most of us who promote the game have no doubt that it will soon hit critical mass in the USA. Still, perception becomes the reality for some. We just have to keep at it, keep helping the game grow until publishers see that that they can actually make a buck with a bocce book.

I’ve written other books that started out with small presses that later were picked up by larger outfits. Sometimes a little publishing fish gets swallowed up by a bigger fish.

I’ve gotten calls at work (when I used to work) by editors at McGraw-Hill and MacMillan (now when someone from those major league companies calls you at work, it can only be a good thing). But no such call has come for the rights to The Joy of Bocce. A second reason might be the photographs. There are about 300 of them. But most I took with my first generation digital camera or were sent to me by people with early digital cameras. They tend to be 72 dpi which is great for the Internet, but not so good for print reproduction. We had to make many of the photos smaller than we would have liked to make them look halfway decent. In some cases, especially some magnificent bocce courts, the small photos don’t do the venues justice.

So, I’ve decided to do a third edition, re-doing almost all the photographs. I’ve got a great new digital camera and can re-take many of the shots. In addition, I’ll ask readers to submit new photos – at least 300 dpi is the goal. I'll ask my friends like court builders David Brewer, Mike Grasser, and Tom McNutt to re-submit photos of their best courts. The new edition will probably not be much different in terms of text (although I may tighten it a bit – friends of mine say to me…”Leave it to you to write a book this thick on bocce!”).

I'll need your help with this effort. Please submit high quality (300 dpi) pics (and permission to reprint) of bocce in your neck of the woods. This project will be my main focus for 2008. Please help. Maybe this will be just what the doctor ordered to help get the game to the masses.

Happy Bocce in 2008!

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 http://www.joyofbocce.com 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.

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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.

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January 4, 2008 - Massachusetts - North Andover. Come on down for an informal bocce event at our indoor venue at 1600 Osgood St, off Rte. 125. We'll sign up at 7:00 PM and draw teams for play beginning at 7:15 PM. Might be doubles, triples or four-player teams (depending on the turnout). $30 covers play, prizes, and refreshments (pizza and soft drinks). Call Mario @ 978-686-8679 or email bocceguy@joyofbocce.com .

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May 17, 2008 - New Jersey - 2nd annual NJ Bocce Invitational supporting New Jersey charities. Contact Frank Valanzola @ 973-793-5406 or loeprofile@optonline.net . View web site at http://www.newjerseybocceinvitational.com

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

Merchandise still available at joyofbocce.com

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