The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. VI, Issue 5 - February 19, 2007 
•   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 6, Issue #5 - February 19, 2007
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2007
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844 (vm 800-211-1202 ext 4949)

Bocce Brothers and Sisters,

Got snowed out last week in my attempt to visit the YMCA in Melrose, Mass. where I hoped to evaluate their Taraflex surface to see if it might be OK for bocce play.

Recap: two weeks ago I met with some investors who are building an indoor sports facility in Peabody, Mass. that will have space for soccer, lacrosse, basketball, and other sports. There will be Astroturf in some areas and Taraflex on others. Taraflex is somewhat similar to the kind of surface on the bocce courts at the Palazzo di Bocce.

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 so it wouldn't interfere with 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 quickly and easily leave the facility ready for the next soccer, lacrosse, or other group.

I'll keep you posted,
Mario Pagnoni (The Bocce Guy)

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

A couple weeks back we discussed the fact that some restaurants/bars are incorporating bocce courts. We listed a few links...

We also mentioned that Tom Strenk interviewed me about an article he wrote for Restaurant Business Magazine (about restaurants incorporating bocce courts into their dining establishments). View it here

I offered that "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 - a poured liquid (polymer) that levels and solidifies. You're not 'playing in the dirt' any more. Your hands are is good!"

I mentioned that Il Vagabondo in Manhattan uses a metal washer as a safety feature, fearing that the pallino might get knocked into the nearby dining area.

Michael Grasser of has a solution. He's offering a stainless steel pallino which is much heavier (international size - 40 mm, but 240 g compared to the usual 120 g) that is much less likely to get knocked out of the court.

I tried it out recently with our bocce posse and found that it is indeed likely to stay in bounds. We play on Astroturf set on top of concrete, so bouncing balls and flying pallinos tend to be a problem for us.

We also found that when the stainless steel pallino is struck with a gentle roll, it doesn't move very far from its original position. Click the photo above right to view the stainless steel pallino at - retails for $12.00.

Click here to view photos of Il Vagabondo if you missed them last time: .


A member of our local Sons of Italy group has stepped up to run some bocce programs on the facility's two 10' by 64' courts. He's doing a nice job, but I take issue with some of his ideas.

He's charging just $5 to play in a weekly doubles (two players per team) tournament. There is a "blind draw" (you get your partner picked out of a hat) and the event is double elimination (you must lose twice to be eliminated).

He wants to get a lot of players there for cheap dollars believing the organization will make their money off the bar. I'm not buying it. First off, to make money from the concession you need a lot of people in attendance. When the World Series of Bocce in Rome, NY draws over 100 four-person teams, you can bet they hawk a few sandwiches and drinks. But when you have six teams (a dozen players) in an informal tourney, I don't think the cash flow is going to slide you into a new tax bracket.

When you run events you need to decide your purpose. Is it to promote the game, make some money for the club, get new players involved, etc? Once you know the purpose you can decide how much to charge, what awards to give out, etc.

This weekly event has so far drawn about 12 players ($60 revenue) per night. The organizer has taken a "rake" of $15 for the house and awarded $30 for first place and $15 for second.

My view: we're just trying to get some players involved. They don't need a cash prize. Heck, they got to play a couple games for their five bucks. Just give the winners a t-shirt that says something like "I won the Sons of Italy bocce challenge." Keep the money in the club's coffers, or spring for some pizza for the players (you might want to collect a tad more than 5 bucks).

Two courts is not enough to run a large event anyway. Double elimination can take a long time to complete, depending on the number of courts and the number of teams. If you draw more people you'll have to consider other tourney formats like single elimination or even playing a set number of frames or rounds (like 9 innings in baseball). People want to come and play, but they don't want to spend the night (these events have started at 7:00 PM and gone past 11:00 PM).

Do readers have other ideas to streamline events with two courts and a large field of players? Should we play three players to a team, four? Should matches go to just 8 points or 9? Other ideas? Please REPLY.


Ross Hilden of the Portland (OR) Bocce League Association sends news...

"I am the secretary for the non-profit Portland Bocce League Association, and have just developed a web site for the organization.

As part of me trying to market our organization I would like to add you to our links, and was hoping that we might be included in your links."

{Sounds like a plan. Check the new site out at }


Jean Anthony of Bath, Maine sends a reprint and permission to run an article written by Darreby Ambler of the Times Record - Brunswick, Maine. {My two cents worth in brackets}

No Spectators Allowed: The Bocce Buddies of Bath
by Darreby Ambler

Trying to sneak into the Bath Area Senior Citizens Center, I'm immediately busted.

"Come on in!"

"Are you going to play?"

"No spectators!"

{I love this idea - no spectators. You have to play.}

Before I know what's happening - or even the rules - I'm led over to a long strip of outdoor carpeting framed by wood supports and am handed a large, painted green ball (sort of a double-size croquet ball).

A woman in a bright red cap points me helpfully toward a small white ball at the other end of the green runway. "Aim for the pallina."

As my ball - pitched far too hard - sails past the white target ball, my new friend consoles me. "Well, the floor does slant a little."

Welcome to the Bocce Buddies of Bath. Bocce (bah-chee) inevitably brings to mind gruff French gentlemen sipping Pernod. But instead of berets, this cheerful group of teammates sport bright red caps embroidered "BBB."

"When things get testy," confides one with a wicked tone, "we change that first word to something else."

On Wednesdays and Fridays the "Buddies" gather to play ball, to drink coffee, to swap news, and to egg each other on. Over the past few months, they have created a non-traditional family. As in any family the affection - and the teasing - is thick.

"C'mon. Let's get this show on the road,” says an impatient Buddy. “Hmmm, maybe if I say it loud enough they might hear me."

"That was how NOT to do it. Now she'll show you how to do it."

“They don’t call me ‘eagle eye’ for nothing.”

"Ernie, have you been practicing?"

"Be a hero, Lucille!"

This good-natured banter is an integral part of a game central to community life in many countries for almost three thousand years. In bocce, two teams take turns pitching the pallina (small target ball) and eight larger bocce balls down a long rectangular court. Each team has four balls in their team color; teams vie to place their balls closest to the pallina. The game has the feeling of horseshoes, but the unpredictability of billiards. The last throw can reverse a team's fortune for better or worse.

{The feeling of horseshoes, but the unpredictability of billiards - interesting take. Bocce is often likened to horseshoes, but as far as I can see, horseshoes just involves the skill of pitching the shoes just so. Bocce requires skill and has an important cerebral aspect that games like horseshoes and darts can't duplicate. Strategy and tactics are paramount. I like those other games, but they don't hold a candle to ours.}

It’s surprisingly addictive.

{Not surprising to those of us who have promoted it to the masses over the years.}

"Did you know that after soccer, bocce is the most popular game in the world?" asks a voice at my elbow. A warm, enthusiastic British woman, Jean Anthony has lived in Bath for 31 years, but her accent - and her animation - remain as strong as ever. This morning Jean has invited me to the Senior Center to introduce the "Buddies" and to explain her mission: to bring bocce to Bath as a community sport.

{I often hear variations of the quote that bocce is one of the most popular sports in the world. I think it is probably more accurate to say that ball-and-target games like bocce, boules, and lawn bowls grouped together comprise one of the most popular activities enjoyed on the planet.}

Two winters ago, Jean went to Florida to recover from cancer surgery. Her rental house featured a nearby bocce court. Curious, she strolled down there one morning. "Everyone greeted me with, 'We don't allow have to play!' I was raised not to mind making a fool of myself. So I picked up a ball."

Almost immediately, she was hooked. "Soon, I was playing twice a day. I felt myself, physically and mentally, getting stronger." But Jean's healing went far beyond exercise. She found herself welcomed into a close community of bocce players that teased each other, supported each other, went out to dinner together.

{Awesome! Bocce is about camaraderie.}

"I had been wondering if God had any purpose for me. I felt utterly useless, physically limited, but I saw how this game was helping me. After I returned to Maine, I figured out God had a good streak of humor. 'I've got an idea- Jean can start bocce in Bath...That'll keep her occupied!"

When she returned, she began the bocce campaign in earnest. She put flyers up at the Activity Center. That first week, eight people showed up. "We played out on the lawn, using twigs for boundary markers." When the weather turned cold the regulars “couldn't bear to give up their game" so she researched measurements, got on the phone, and recruited donations and manpower to build an indoor court. Fellow Buddy Herman Merkord helped her jury-rig a court from donated carpet ends, scrap wood, and sawn off clipboards, and they fashioned a "close throw measure" from two tin cans and a string. Scorekeeper Virginia MacDonald presides over a donated easel fitted out with a whiteboard and two team markers improvised from milk caps and Velcro. “Just good old Yankee ingenuity,” she smiles.

During the coffee-break I meet Larry Pesci, a gentleman who has been bowling from a folding chair at the end of the court. Badly injured in a car accident last summer, Larry also lost his wife in the accident. He spent several weeks in a coma and six months of physical rehabilitation at Maine Medical Center. He has been playing bocce for several months, growing progressively stronger (and more accurate). He says he goes to a grief therapy group once a week, and then, there’s bocce. "It's been something to do rather than stay at home and watch T.V."

Another Buddy thanks me for bringing my teenage sons. As I watch the boys struggle with gauging the right amount of force to use, I realize this is one sport where youthful strength takes a backseat to shrewd experience.


Later, Jean drops me a passionate note that resonates with what I saw that morning. “How many sports allow competition between players of all ages? How many sports are truly co-ed? How many sports allow members of a family to play with and against each other? Bocce does all this, and with a touch of class."

The next time I come to play, I walk in just as Larry is getting up from his folding chair to bowl for the first time from a standing position. Excited whispers and broad smiles break out around the court at this new milestone. The Buddies hold their collective breath. Alas, Larry's toss goes long. "Better sit down, Larry," a friend chides. "You're too powerful to stand up!"


You're now a 'Bocce Buddy'
A member of the team.
You're no Fuddy-Duddy,
Your Bowling's smooth as cream.

This bocce game is such a joy,
It's brought us all together
For laughs and chats and coffee too
Who cares about the weather?

We come to play and persevere,
That perfect shot we try
With friendly games and much good cheer
My, how the time does fly!

Jean Anthony - 2006


Michael Grasser has updated the prize money for the U.S. Men's Pallino D'Oro (based on 40 players). Click below for an official registration form which is due by April 28th. For both the men's and women's Pallino D'Oro "all players must have a 2007 USBF membership card and must have lived in the United States for at least the last six months or since November of 2006."

Registration form for U.S. Pallino D'Oro to print out and submit

Photos of the week
This week’s photos are now part of the Bocce Venues page at (will be available permanently - not just for the week).

Joy of Bocce faithful readers Richard & Barbara Heisler (Eureka, California) sent the excellent photos and lucid description:

"Bocce Friends:

We played in the Stockton, CA area Waterloo Gun and Bocci (sic) Club January 6th open tournament with a couple of up and coming college students from nearby Sacramento, Mitch Villerme and Frances Allen. The four indoor courts are a bit tricky and we didn’t do so well, but had a great time nonetheless. Our thanks to Dave and the club for rescuing us from the winter doldrums.

It’s a great facility with a large hall for special events and a bar and kitchen. This is a club were you can walk in anytime and play and around noon the regulars gather and between sips of Café Royale, will show you how to play bocce, San Joaquin Valley style. They like to play three to a side with each rolling two balls, which has become a hit with our friends back home too. Just remember, they play the backboard dead.

They run several tournaments per year plus promoting a great youth program. You can get dinner and two games of bocce for nine bucks every Friday night. The club has been around for a while and Dave Canclini, the tournament director has some good stories.

As Dave Canclini tells it:

In the fifties, a group of Italians enjoyed shooting trap at different ranches in the Waterloo area. After some time, it was felt by them that there should be a permanent place to do this; so, they found a piece of property and bought it. This was back in 1953. In 1955, shares where sold to raise money to make improvements on the property. The shares were sold for $25 each. Fourteen thousand dollars was raised and the club has been growing since then.

Over the years trap and skeet fields were installed, a bar and dinning area was built, and a bocce building was constructed so the Italians in the area had a place to play their favorite sport. Four courts inside were constructed using clay and oyster shells. These 'dirt' courts were replaced in 1998 with a concrete base-polyurethane topping.

The name of the club was incorrectly spelled 'Bocci'. It was later realized that this was a mistake, but since all the legal documents used this spelling it was never changed to 'Bocce' Several players from the club have represented the United States in World Championships all over the world. Most of those players are deceased now, but in 1996 the team of Romano Lotti, Lucca Fontana, Tony Franceschina, and Alberico Leonardi represented the United States at the World Championships held in Chicago.

Great players of the past were, John Muzio, Leonard Torlai, Luigi Prato, Mario Simonetti, Domenico Pioli, Costante Maneti, and Renaldo Nincioni.

The club was one of the first to join the United States Bocce Federation when it was formed and has been a member each year since. The club is openly daily to the public for open bocce play.

Waterloo Gun and Bocci Club is about 3 miles east of Highway 99 (near Stockton) just left off of Highway 88 at 4343 N. Ashley Lane (209) 931-0323, drop in."

{Thanks to the Heislers for the great photos and report. Please follow their lead and send pictures from your area.}

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
Bocce Court Maintenance Tools

I’ve seen all kinds of home-made court maintenance brushes and scrapers. Two things have always struck me about them. 1 – they look like they are home-made and 2 – they tend to be HEAVY.

7' Drag Brush

Manufactured by Lee Tennis (makers of the Har-Tru surface), this court maintenance tool created for tennis courts works exceptionally well for bocce courts. The 7-foot drag brush is light-weight and, even if you have a 13- or 14-foot wide court, you can smooth it over with just two passes. This is quick enough to do between games without players standing around waiting very long.

Bristles are 4 ½ inches of synthetic fibers and the strong but light-weight frame is aluminum. Retails for $149.95 plus shipping.


This strangely named 30” wide device is actually two implements in one. It is an all-aluminum combination tool for scarifying, leveling, and removing loose court material.

Strong and sturdy, the tool is light enough to handle with ease and is excellent for spreading new material during top-dressing. The concave shape of the 30” wide blade allows the tool to “float” along the surface without digging in. Use the serrated edge to scrape material from high spots, then flip the tool over to rake and smooth that spot and drag the loose material to fill in a lower point. Retails for $54.95 plus shipping.

Besides a heavy roller, the lute/scarifier and 7-foot drag brush should be all the maintenance tools a bocce court owner needs.

Click to go to merchandise order...then scroll to bottom of page.

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}

Market America Isotonix® OPC-3

From the Market America company web site..."Composed of grape seed, pine bark, red wine, bilberry and citrus extracts, Isotonix OPC-3 is a safe, nontoxic antioxidant that delivers unparalleled protection from free radicals and helps support the body’s circulatory system."

"Potent free radical scavenger & neutralizer Helps maintain healthy circulation Supports healthy blood glucose levels."

Click the link below to get more info...improve your health and maybe even your bocce game too!

Click to learn more about OPC-3 and other great products...

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.


February 24 & 25, 2007 - Washington - Auburn Bocce Club. OPEN - 4 players. Contact Sal Cascone @ 253-939-3502.


March 9 - 11, 2007. Florida - Cape Coral - Veterans Park Bocce Courts, 4140 Coronado Pkwy. 4 player teams w/ 1 alternate. Open Rules, Round Robin format. Prize money to top 5 place finishers. 1st place $7,000.00 guaranteed. 2nd - 5th place amounts determined by number of teams entered. Entry fee = $400.00 per team. Must register by Feb 10, 2007. More info: George Furlan at 239-275-9968 or 1-800-226-0604 - Cell 239-229-2348, e-mail = .


March 17, 2007 - California - Sacramento - East Portal Bocce Club. OPEN - 4 players. Contact Vern Cooper @ 916-961-2404.


March 24, 2007 - California - Vacaville - Nut Tree. Grand Opening Tourney. OPEN - 4 Players. Contact Kelli Valle @ 707-448-6411.


March 31, 2007 - California - I. A. C - Stockton. OPEN - 3 Players (at least 1 woman player). Contact Ron Jacobs @ 209-957-1223.


April 7, 2007 – California - Los Gatos. Campo di Bocce. OPEN, 4 Players. 11th Annual Los Gatos Bocce Club Open Tournament. Contact Bill Schlaefer @ 408-379-9409.


April 19 - 21, 2007 – Nevada - Crystal Bay, Lake Tahoe. Biltmore Hotel and Casino. OPEN, 4 players. Contact Biltmore Casino 1-800-245-8667.

April 28, 2006 – California - South San Francisco. Italian American Citizen’s Club. OPEN, 3 Players. Contact Ron Del Carlo @ 650-359-2310.


April 28, 2007 - Washington - Bellingnham. Bellingham Bay Bocce Tournament - Http://www. . Contact Tom Mcnutt @ or call 360-224-2909 for info or to register.


April 28, 2007 – Florida – St. Augustine. Open Rules – 2 player teams. $20 per person if pre-registered. $25 if registering on the day of the tourney. Lunch provided. Proceeds benefit the Northeast USO. Contact Guy Tomasello @ .


April 29, 2007 – California - San Francisco. Aquatic Park Bocce Club. VOLO, Precision Throwing (Singles, Skill Competition). Contact Marco Cuneo @ 415-713-5939.


May 5, 2007 – California - San Mateo. Peninsula Italian American Social Club. RAFFA, 3 Players. Contact Adriano Undorte @ 650591-3318.


May 5, 2007 – California - San Mateo. Peninsula Italian American Social Club at Beresford Park. OPEN, 4 women players. Contact Rose Viscuso @ 650-349-7732.


May, 6, 2007 (rain date May 20) Colorado - Fort Collins - "Bocce for Meals" Ice Breaker Tournament (1st year); benefit for Fort Collins Meals on Wheels. Pre-registration required. Call 970-484-6325 or email 4 member teams; $100 registration. 2-3 games guaranteed.


May 19, 2007- California - South San Francisco. Italian American Citizen’s Club. OPEN, 2 women players and 2 men players per team. Contact Susan Botti @ 650-589-4356.


May 26, 2007 – California - Livermore. Campo di Bocce. RAFFA, 3 players. Los Gatos Bocce Club Annual Raffa Tournament. Contact Bill Schlaefer @ 408-379-9409.


May 26, 2007 – California - Fairfield. Fairfield Bocce Federation. OPEN, 4 women players. Contact Richard Costales @ 707-425-7167.


June 3, 2007 - New Jersey - Franklin (Colonial Park). Bocce Invitational - "Proceeds benefit our soldiers through the efforts of Operation Shoebox New Jersey." Contact Frank Valanzola @ 973-793-5406. {Note: Operation Shoebox is an initiative to create a "care package supply line" to US troops serving overseas.}


June 16, 2007 - California - Los Gatos Campo di Bocce. U.S. Pallino d' Oro (TM) 2007 Women's, singles, raffa, International rules bocce tournament. $150.00 per athlete. Prizes: 1st $1,000.00, 2nd $650.00, 3rd $450.00, 4th $250.00 (based on 20 players). Trophies for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th.

Information and registration: Mike Grasser 248-495-4059 or 248-505-4744 or Note: players must have an understanding of international raffa rules.


June 16 & 17, 2007 - California - Livermore. Campo di Bocce. U.S. Pallino D' Oro (TM) 2007 - Men's, singles, raffa, International rules bocce tournament. $200.00 per athlete. Prizes: 1st $2,500.00, 2nd $1,500.00, 3rd $1000.00, 4th $500.00 (based on 40 players). Trophies for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th.

Information and registration: Mike Grasser 248-495-4059 or 248-505-4744 or Note: players must have an understanding of international raffa rules.


July 20 - 22, 2007 - New York, Rome. The World Series of Bocce. 4-player teams - Open Division (all men or co-ed) and Women's Division (all women). Visit for information, an application, and various bits of interest, or contact Al Orbinati @ or Chris Klepadlo @ 315-271-9701.


September 15, 2007 - Virginia - Oronoco Park, on the Potomac - First Annual San Gennaro Italian Festival of Alexandria. Ben Brenman Park in Alexandria Virginia (just outside Washington DC). Info on website: . Contact = Jay DeCianno @


September 16, 2007 (rain date Sept. 23rd) - Colorado - Fort Collins - 3rd Annual "Bocce for Meals" Tournament; benefit for Fort Collins Meals on Wheels. Pre-registration required. Call 970-484-6325 or email 4 member teams; $100 registration. 2-3 games guaranteed.

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