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Having a ball with bocce at Sunset Park; Londonderry township league has been around for 15 years

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/7/18

Every Tuesday morning for almost 15 years, a group of 20 people have gathered at the bocce ball courts in Sunset Park in Londonderry Township.

The teams take turns rolling their bocce balls toward …

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Having a ball with bocce at Sunset Park; Londonderry township league has been around for 15 years

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Every Tuesday morning for almost 15 years, a group of 20 people have gathered at the bocce ball courts in Sunset Park in Londonderry Township.

The teams take turns rolling their bocce balls toward a smaller white ball called the “pallino.” The goal is to try to get the ball as close as possible to the pallino. Sometimes, the players break out a tape measure to check who is really the closest.

“You have to line things up, and it’s all in the delivery,” Connie Egenrieder said.

Egenrieder has been a member of the Londonderry Bocce Ball League for eight years. She decided to join after one of the league members called and said they needed more players.

“It’s a relatively easy form of exercise,” Egenrieder said. “You come back because you get to be part of the group.”

The league was started in 2005 by Louise Morgan.

“I just wanted to do something for the senior citizens in the township,” Morgan said.

Activities are offered for township children, she said, such as baseball and softball. Bocce ball is an activity that senior citizens can do, and league members with canes have been able to roll the bocce balls. Also, there are poles in the corners of the bocce courts in Sunset Park, which some of the league members use to help them step down into the court.

Plus, Morgan wanted to play bocce ball. When a new group is suggested, Morgan said there’s the question of who will start it.

So she stepped up.

“It started out fine, and we’ve been going since,” Morgan said.

They has been playing at Sunset Park in the township since the league’s formation. There are three leagues, and each plays either Monday or Tuesday morning or Tuesday evening. There are four teams in each league, made up of four regular players and one alternate, though there is also a separate list of alternates in case the team alternate isn’t available.

There are about 60 people in all three leagues and 20 in each league. Players do not have to live in Londonderry.

Donna Moore has been part of the league since the beginning and joined to get exercise.

“Our league has a lot of fun,” she said.

The league runs in both summer and fall. The summer season runs from the first full week of May through Aug. 21. The fall season then starts the day after Labor Day and runs for six weeks.

“You know a lot of the people and you get to meet new people too,” Morgan said.

Members do not have to pay to join, although players have to provide their own balls.

Anyone interested in joining the Londonderry Bocce League should call Morgan at 717-944-6518.

“We can use people as subs to start out. That’s the best way to see if they really like it and if it’s all they thought it would be,” she said.

A long history of bocce

According to the United States Bocce Federation:

• Throwing balls toward a target is the oldest game known to mankind. As early as 5000 B.C. the Egyptians played a form of Bocce with polished rocks. 

• The Romans learned the game from the Greeks, and then introduced it throughout the empire. The Roman influence in bocce is preserved in the game’s name; bocce derives from the Vulgate Latin bottia, meaning boss.

• The early Romans were among the first to play a game resembling what we know as Bocce today. In early times they used coconuts brought back from Africa and later used hard olive wood to carve out Bocce balls. Beginning with Emperor Augustus, Bocce became the sport of statesman and rulers.

• As the game enjoyed rapid growth throughout Europe, the popularity of the game was said to interfere with the security of the state because it took too much time away from archery practice and other military exercises. 

• In modern times, the first bocce clubs were organized in Italy.

• There are more than 25,000,000 bocce enthusiasts throughout the United States today. Next to soccer and golf, bocce is the third most participated sport in the world and is considered the oldest known sport in world history.