YATESVILLE — Bocce ball is not only a game of tradition all over the world; it’s a game of tradition in some Greater Pittston backyards.
The Yatesville Bocce League kicked off its 40th season under a rain-soaked pavilion this past week, with its members gathering for food, fun and competition.
“I wasn’t expecting the league to go this long,” said Guy DePascale Sr., one of the founding members. “I was behind it all the way and I never let up on it.”
Perfected in its present form in Italy, bocce ball consists of two teams vying to bowl a bocce ball nearest to the smaller “pallino” or ball initially tossed. The two four-member teams then alternate bowls until all balls have been thrown. The team with the ball closest to the pallino is the only team that can score any points in a frame, with the scoring team earning one point for each closest ball.
The Yatesville Bocce League consists of nine teams, with six teams playing at once and then rotating in and out.
Before the games began Wednesday, the league honored the late Jim Pizano, who passed away during this past off-season. Doc Campanella and Mike Dudziec rolled the first balls in Pizano’s honor.
Campanella and Pizano have been members of the league since it began in 1979.
“Jimmy and Doc were very competitive,” said bocce league president Guy DePascale Jr. “They helped the league along, and Doc is still here 40 years later.”
Guy Sr. started the league with Joe Chiumento Sr., Frank Bonomo, the late Mike Shannon and the late Gene Bonomo.
“The first meeting together, the five of us, I came up with the idea to have a league and it worked,” Guy Sr. said. “We got guys like Doc Campanella, Jim Pizano who is deceased, and they were competitive people. I knew if they were there, everyone would want to beat them. From there on, it was just built.”
Games were originally played in a grass area next to the municipal building, but flooding in 1984 forced the league to move to the pavilion where games are now played.
Through grants from the state and help from the borough, league members were able to turn the pavilion into their own facility with a roof, three courts, and a fence to prevent vandalism.
The league currently has 36 members and seven on a waiting list, but Guy Jr. said members don’t come and go every season as most are in it for life.
“Once they join, you rarely see a guy quit unless it’s for health or job related,” he said.
The league’s newest member, Brian Kascmar, of Exeter, finally got his chance to play after watching for the last few years.
“I told (Guy Jr.) that if there was ever an opening to let me know and I’d try it out,” he said.
Trying to focus on his first game, Kascmar kept his answers short and sweet as his thoughts were on playing bocce ball.
“I like it,” he said.
The season concludes in September with a clambake where members of the winning team receive championship sweatshirts.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher