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Jerry Budrick
06/12/2014 3:41 PM

By Rick Wagstaff

special to the ledger dispatch

The “Wrecking Crew”, consisting of Alberico Leonardi, Laura De La Rosa, Ron and Jo Ann Jacobs, went undefeated to win the gold medals and cash, for the second year in a row at the annual Sunday Italian Picnic Bocce Tournament, held on June 1. Second place went to “The Sopranos,” consisting of David Canclini, Vern Cooper, Bob Kennedy and Tony Randazzo. Third place went to “Andiamo,” consisting of Carol Del Prette, Pat Ross, Lena Vasconcellos and Nancy Martignago. All three medal-winning teams play at the Italian Athletic Club, in Stockton.

We had 20 teams, and I had to turn away 6 teams. There were two teams from Seattle, Wash. One was named Smeraldo citta Bocce, and the other was “Seattle Sea Hawks.” We awarded them beautiful engraved beer mugs from J&B’S Engraving, for the long distance award. There was a team from Portland, Oregon, called, “Or You Can Do That.” The farthest anyone has ever come is from Chicago — Danny Passaglia, who came to play in Sutter Creek in 1999.

My wife, Teresa, and I always sit down and have a glass of wine after the tournament is over and everyone is gone, to reflect and relax, and think of how we can make this tournament even better next year for our wonderful and supportive friends. After all, many come for the weekend, staying in hotels, motels and inns. They also eat in our wonderful restaurants, shop in our grocery stores and boutiques and buy fuel, which greatly impacts our community.

It was during this “reflection” that I realized that all of my friends who were my teammates in the 2002 United States Championships and World Championships, and fellow inductees into the Hall of Fame, Canclini, Jacobs, Leonardi and Romano Lotti, have come to every Italian Picnic Tournament since 1999. The only difference is, with the exception of Leonardi and Jacobs playing together, we are all competing against one another. Perhaps that is why the “Wrecking Crew” wins so often.

My wife and I play with different people, no matter what their skill level, to bring them to our picnic and community. After all, the most important thing is to have a heck of a lot of fun. Which reminds me to thank everyone who came out to support our “Bocce for a Buck.” It is the best bang for a buck at the picnic and helps us maintain the bocce courts at the Italian Picnic Grounds.

Rick Wagstaff, of Pine Grove, is a member of the Bocce Hall of Fame. He has won numerous titles in the U.S. and abroad. He and his wife, Teresa, run the annual Italian Picnic & Parade Bocce Tournament, held on Sunday during the Italian Benevolent Society’s big weekend.

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