Anyone who thinks the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox is fierce hasn’t been to the bocce ball courts in Buchmuller Park.
There, every Monday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., 12 local teams compete in the Secaucus Bocce Ball League. While the competition is friendly, the players take their bocce very seriously.
How seriously? Ask former league Vice President and General Manager Charlie Makarski, now a member of first-place team “Pepperoni.” Makarski, one of the league’s founding members, recently recounted its 15 year history.
“When we first started, we only had one [bocce] court,” Makarski recalled. “The other court over there was a shuffleboard court. I went to the mayor – who at the time that was Anthony Just – and I said to him, ‘Nobody’s using that thing. We have 12 bocce teams. We need another court.’ ”
To the chagrin of the town’s shuffleboard fans, Mayor Just had the court dug up and a new bocce court created for the league.
That was the first of many requests Makarski went on to make on behalf of bocce. Over time another shuffleboard court was converted. Better lighting was installed for evening bocce games. The old bocce courts were given better drainage so they didn’t flood after major rains. Benches were added for spectators. And the red clay that used the cover the courts was eventually covered with cinder.
Bocce, a ball-based team sport that dates back to ancient games played in the Roman Empire, developed into its modern day form in Italy. The game requires accuracy and teamwork.
In the game, individuals on a team attempt to get their bocce balls the closest to the “pollino,” a smaller ball that’s tossed onto the court and used as a target.
Today the league – which includes the teams the Shamrocks, Paisanos, Fettuccines, Pepperonis, Tortellinis, Antipastos, Boccegaloops, Cannolis, Provolones, Lasagnas, Zucchinis, and Al Dentes – plays from the last week in April through Labor Day. Scores are kept for every game and tallied to determine standing in the league and playoff position.
On a recent Wednesday evening the Reporter caught up with league players and learned the finer points of bocce from the Pepperonis, Tortellinis, Paisanos, and Antipastos.
Teams include the Cannolis, Provolones, and Lasagnas.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.