The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. VII, Issue 41 - December 1, 2008 
•   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 7, Issue #41 - December 1, 2008
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2008
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844 (vm 800-211-1202 ext 4949)

Hello again bocce gang,

I got a phone call from Joe Federico of the recent past issue's "Federico Factor". He was the outstanding coach and role model I was so fortunate to have encountered in my formative years. Someone in the Joy of Bocce readership let him know about the Federico Factor and he and his family want searching on the Web to locate and read the piece.

Joe telephoned to say thanks for the kind words and we made a date to get together the next time I was in town (Springfield, Mass. which is in the western part of the state). So, it was not only great to hear from an old friend and mentor, but to reconnect as well. It is always fascinating to see how the reach of the ezine keeps getting wider and wider.

I'm often amazed at how, with the advent of the World Wide Web, you never know who might be reading the words you write. Also, if you have a web site that comes up on the first page when people "Google" you (like, there's no telling who might reach out to connect with you.

Stay close and always be up front,
Mario Pagnoni (The Bocce Guy)

Medford Boat Club - Medford, Massachusetts...

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

Budapest Bocce - from Dr. Cordano...

"This is informative and for your records from my April visit to Budapest, Hungary, as the first bocce player from the US playing there. I played a few friendly games and the level of local players was good (particularly their champion). I played with my Palazzo uniform and you can see the president of the Hungarian federation wearing a blue shirt of the USBF uniform.

It was kind of cold and humid to play outside, but it was fun and their friendliness was impressive. They treated me with a fantastic typical 'hot' goulash that instantly warmed me up.

We exchanged some presents with the president of the Club, Mr. Istvan and will cherish them forever, among the rest of the bocce memorabilia."


Arizona's Rock Gunnoe responded to last issue's question on what to put down under carpet to minimize bocce ball bounce...

"I have not used this material yet, but we tried a couple of tosses on the local public playground and it seems like it might do the trick. One place that has it on the Internet is at . It has some good information on what it is and how it can be installed. The park had the EPDM with safety buffing, at least 4 inches deep.

We are seriously considering it for an indoor court in a micro-brew pub in Tucson. We want oyster shell, but the mess it would create would make nightly cleanup a real burden for the employees. We tested this rubber stuff with a beer glass at the park, (I know, our bad, but we came prepared to clean it all up), a couple of bounces from chest high failed to break the glass and there was very minimal rebound. We did not have enough surface area to really test the bocce balls in play, but they too had a minimal bounce."

{Any reader have any experience with this surface? Please RESPOND.}


More on The Federico Factor

A recent issue covering the Federico Factor, referring to the fact that I was fortunate to have a great youth coach at an early stage of my sports development (baseball/basketball) still generates responses. Many have written to tell me that they too were influenced positively by a youth coach. In fact, it is widely known that a great many people when asked to name someone who had a major impact on their life will name a former coach.

A couple years back I attended a tribute to a couple Local Heroes. One of the honorees was Joe Federico, so I immediately called the organizers and volunteered to speak, but that role was already taken by Pro Football Hall of Fame star Nick Buoniconti. Nick was a neighbor of mine (older) in the South End of Springfield and he was coached by Joe as well. Just about anyone who was any good at football, basketball, or baseball in the greater Springfield area played for Joe at one time or another.

Buoniconti and the other speakers all did a great job honoring the Local Heroes. But one thing was overlooked. Many of us who got all that good coaching and saw the model of how to teach and how to treat young players went on to become teachers and coaches ourselves. So, Joe Federico the mentor not only served as a positive influence on his players, but indirectly, he influenced another generation, and if we did half as good a job as he did, he'll impact future generations too. I'm reminded of Clarence's words to George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life..."One man's life touches so many others..."

{Thanks, Joe...}


Blast from the past...

It's fun to look at back issues to see where we were and where we might be headed.

Last issue's reprint from Volume #3, Issue #36 - October 4, 2004 (about the length and width of bocce courts) got me thinking. The data in that issue was only from up to 2004. A larger sample would give a clearer picture, so I went to the database and logged all the courts I had given Har-Tru quotes for since 2004.

Before I knew it I was up until 2:00 AM entering the data into a spreadsheet - the lengths and widths of 294 bocce courts from across the country. The total includes all those from the 2004 ezine article as well as all the others since then.

The courts went from a high of 100' long to a low of 35'. The widths were from a high of 17' (an aberration) to a low of 5' (another aberration) with most in the 10' to 13' range (248 of the 294 or about 84%) while only 10 were wider than 13' (3%) and 36 were narrower than 10' (12%).

I calculated the average size of the 294 courts to be 65' by 11'. This is a little on the short side, for my tastes.

Only about 9% of the courts were long enough for international style play. That could mean that not many people are playing that way, or it could mean that they didn't have that much room in their backyard, or even that they didn't want to front that much money or do the extra maintenance a bigger court requires.

At the other extreme, 18% of the courts were shorter than 60'. Forty courts were 50' long or less. There were 42 courts in the 75' range (14%).

But the most telling stats are these: For any given court dimensions there were a couple or maybe even 7 or 8 others with the same dimensions. But there were 51 courts measuring 60' by 12' and another 41 at 60' by 10'. That's 92 courts out of 294 or almost a third of the sample. I believe this is because of the old International Bocce Association, a defunct organization that gained a foothold early on and got some of the bocce ball distributors to include their court dimensions with each set sold. They declared the "offical" size court for the International Bocce Association to be 60' by 12'.

You can still find references on the Web where outfits are selling bocce balls that are manufactured to "International Bocce Association specifications."

Note: I got these top dressing court quote requests from people considering Har-Tru as a top dressing. Maybe those that opt for oyster shell or other surface materials also opt for different court dimensions.

Any reader want to chime in on what you think any of this data might mean?

Anyway, put whatever size court fits in your backyard and your pocketbook. Enjoy this great game!


Steve Watkins of Santa Monica, CA chimes in on the cornhole fad...

I have tried cornhole, and it's OK as a backyard game at parties and that type of thing. But it doesn't take a lot of skill and there's no strategy. I grow bored with it after a few games. But bocce, with its strategy and various situations depending on where your team's and opponents' balls lie, always poses a new challenge, so it never gets old.

If I recall correctly, I think you might have expressed a similar opinion recently, haven't you?

{Yes, my sentiments exactly. It's puzzling how some games catch hold and others don't. In the east we had candlepin bowling (it's still hanging on in a few locations, but it's holding on by a thread). Most people outside of New England probably never heard of it. The pins are tall and slender (like candles) and the balls are roughly the size of bocce balls. You don't clear the deadwood. It's a very nice game that almost anyone can play.

I am surprised that ten-pin bowling went national and candlepin did not. Those ten-pin balls are big and heavy. You have to stick your fingers inside to roll them. I get a hernia just looking at them. But people like the idea that you can get a lot of strikes and high scores - even perfect games of 300 are possible. So, ten-pin goes big time and the more user friendly candlepin languishes. Go figure!}


Joy of Bocce 3rd Edition - Photos Needed

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’m asking readers to submit new pics – at least 300 dpi is the goal. I'm asking you and 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 & 2009. Please help.

How about a bocce auction?

Photos of the week
Eric Marttila sent me some more info on his backyard courts featured in the last issue. So, I've added some details to the photo captions on the web site and am holding the photos over another week.

"Thanks for including the photos of our court, which is 12 x 72. The playing surface is a 3-inch deep 'infield mix' -- 10% clay, 20% silt, and 30% sand, over the sub-surface of crushed stone as you had suggested. We couldn't afford to install a formal drainage system, and there have been times that we have had to wait for a day or more after heavy or persistent rains to be able to roll. Although difficult for me, I am closer to accepting that you can't rush Mother Nature. It has always been worth the wait.

Our group is planning a trip to Brooklyn to visit a restaurant with indoor courts, and we're thinking about inviting the reigning bocce champs from Queens (featured on a recent CBS Sunday Morning program) for a match in the spring."


Eric and Susan Marttila sent this week's photos (held over from last issue) - great shots of their lovely backyard bocce court.

I visted them in Doylestown, Pennsylvania this past summer as I was "in the neighborhood" checking in on The New Jersey Invitational and the Mohawk House { }, which was putting in two bocce courts.

Eric sent a wonderful message that I don't mind sharing with you...

"Notwithstanding some torrential downpours at various times, we have certainly enjoyed a fantastic summer of bocce in Doylestown, Pennsylvania -- and have you to thank for much of it. We wouldn't have known an official bocce ball if we fell over one until you introduced us.

The delightful measuring device you generously gave me for my birthday is often employed with great relish amidst good-natured controversy . . . and your personalized scoreboard, red and green arrows greased with the oil of olives which are a staple of our gatherings, has been a godsend.

Attached are a few photographs of our court for your review. Although I never formally responded to your inquiry about the suggestion to charge for your ezine, be assured that I would be happy to pay for the privilege of receiving it.

If you are ever in the area, you are more than welcome to stop by and be our guests. The visit you paid remains a recurring topic of conversation. Whenever we players are faced with a particular bocce challenge, 'What would Mario do?' is frequently heard. It has even been suggested that we create t-shirts with that inscription.

We truly hope to see you again in the near future. Best wishes in all things. 'Stay close.'

{Please follow Eric's lead and send photos of bocce in your neck of the woods. With your permission, I'll make them a permanent part of the Joy of Bocce web site under Bocce Venues and maybe even include a shot in the next edition of the Joy of Bocce (which I hope to get to press in the fall of 2009).}

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
Holiday gift ideas for the bocce lover in your life...

I've had some special items in my office for about 6 months now that I never put on the web site or in the ezine. Hey, I never said I was a good businessman.

Anyway, I've added them this week and listed them in order of price, so you can decide how much you want to spend and then maybe pick an item.

Two things I've never posted before are bocce ball bags with the Joy of Bocce embroidered logo and chamois (bocce towels) also with the embroidered logo.

Of course, I think an autographed copy of The Joy of Bocce would be a great gift. Make sure to think up a really cool inscription for me to include.

Click the link below to view the items...

Click for a holiday bocce shopping experience...

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}


Shop Today

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Tournament update
{chronological order}


Don't let the West Coast players hog all the space!


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.


December 5 - 7, 2008. Canada - Windsor, Ontario. Ciociaro Club. Da Vinci Bocce LLC Presents The 2008 United States and North American Pallino D’Oro Championships. Contact Michael Grasser at 248-505-4744 or .


December 6, 2008 – California - Stockton. Italian Athletic Club. OPEN, 4 players, including at least 2 women players. Contact Romano Lotti @ 209-951-8256.


March 12 - 15, 2009 - Florida - Cape Coral. World Series Bocce Invitational. $6000 first place guaranteed. New Veterans Park Bocce Courts. 3-player teams - round robin. Contact George Furlan @ 239-275-9968.


March 30 - April 5, 2009. Italy - Bavena. Women's Raffa World Championship. Details TBA.

June 20, 2009 - New Jersey - Franklin Twp. 3rd Annual Bocce Invitational at Colonial Park. Proceeds will support Operation Shoebox New Jersey and Boys & Girls Clubs of New Jersey.

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