Chris Gerardo has been selected by the Officers and Directors of the USBF as the first recipient to the United States Bocce Federation Wall of Honor. Chris founded the United States Bocce Federation in 1976 and became its first president from 1976 to 1985. His contributions to bocce are the reason we exist as the governing body for bocce here in the United States. His determination to have United States bocce recognized internationally and his tireless efforts to promote the sport has entitled him to be so honored. He is the father of bocce in the United States and this organization has him to thank for what we have become and what we hope to accomplish in the future. Chris, along with his wife Elena and daughter Paulette, worked very hard to establish bocce here in the United States. Chris’s contacts with International Organizations and his desire that we follow International rules have been of immeasurable importance to bocce in this country. It is with deep affection and gratitude that we affix his name on our Wall of Honor.
Juanito Cuneo 1935 -1998
Juanito Cuneo at the Board of Director’s meeting held in June of 2003 in Highwood, IL was selected to be inducted onto the United States Bocce Federation’s Wall of Honor. On seven occasions Juanito represented the United States in international competition. For many years he was considered the premier Volo shooter in the United States. His record speaks for itself. A United States gold medal winner from the late 1970’s through the 1990’s, he set the standard in Volo competition in this country. He was all business on the court and one of the fiercest competitors this country has ever known. He represented the United States in Australia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Monaco, Croatia, and Chile. The Cuneo legend lives on with sons Marco and Paulo and brothers Gino and Delio who are all excellent players. The United States Bocce Federation is honored to place Juanito on its Wall of Honor. The record of his accomplishment in Volo will be remembered for many years in the history of bocce in the United States!
Bruno Freschet was born in 1926 in San Fior, Italy. He learned the game of bocce from his father Luigi and played in Italy with his dad and friends. Bruno left San Fior in 1949 at the age of 22, sailing for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Bruno stayed in Argentina for five years and then immigrated to the United States settling in San Mateo, California in 1954. Six months later he went back to Italy where he married his sweetheart Angela whom he had not seen for five years. They returned to San Mateo where Bruno began his career as a mason and he and Angela began their family, raising a son Lorenzo and a daughter Lora.
Bruno did not have the opportunity to play organized bocce in Argentina and missed the sport very much. After joining the Peninsula Social Club in San Mateo, he became very active in playing, organizing, and promoting bocce. His bother Guido said that Bruno was a great all around player who never felt the pressure of a big game and almost always came through with a winning shot when the game was on the line. He was also a dedicated and patient teacher of the game. His advice to all players was: “Never complain about losing a game. Be glad you played it”.
Through mutual friends and contacts at Club Trevisani nel Mondo, Bruno met Chris Gerardo of Pueblo, Colorado, founder of the United States Bocce Federation (USBF). Bruno, Chris, and many others worked together in promoting the game and emphasizing the importance of the international rules. Bruno became a founding member of the USBF in 1976. He also served on the USBF board of directors for almost twenty years and was very active in helping his club host the National Championships in 1984 and 1991.
Bruno’s dedication to the sport earned him a spot in the finals of the Volo National Championships five times. He represented the United States in the Volo World Championships in Monaco in 1980, Yugoslavia in 1984, and the Punto, Raffa, Volo World Championships in Milan, Italy in 1990. He played in the first National Championship in 1979 at Las Vegas, Nevada and at every National Championship after that until a spinal cord injury confined him to a wheel chair in 1997.
Bruno was honored in 1999 at the awards banquet at the National Championships in Stockton, California for his lifetime achievement in the sport of bocce and his devotion to the USBF. In 2002, shortly before his death, hi insisted on renewing his USBF membership card and asked his friend Adriano Unsorted to bring his card to him while he was in the hospital! The United States Bocce Federation is privileged to have Bruno Freschet on its Wall of Honor
Mario Massa was born in Navarro, Italy in the province of Piedmont on December 10th, 1918 and played bocce all through his early years. In 1947, Mario met a sweet Scottish lass, Lillian Nannini, and they were married in Modena, Italy. With his new responsibility, Mario took time off from bocce and worked hard to forge a living during the post-war years. In 1960 he finally decided to immigrate to the United States.
Mario settled in Highwood, Illinois and soon started working for a chemical company as a supervisor. While working his way up the ladder to vice president, Marion once again began playing his favorite sport bocce at the High wood Bocce Club. When the company was sold to Bristol Meyers in the early 1980’s, Mario was actually “sold” with the old company as part of its assets! Mario continued to work until 1989 when he retired and started his new “career” as an ambassador for bocce. Mario first met Chris Gerardo at a USBF tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. They became instant friends and Chris immediately asked Mario to be his vice president. At that time the USBF was only one year old! Mario was elected president a few years later serving one term, and has been on the USBF board of directors ever since.
Mario, along with Lino Freschet, Mario Simonetti, and Gino Bartoletti, represented the United States in the first international competition in Chiasso, Switzerland in 1983. In all, Mario has represented the United States as a player four times, a coach four times, and returned to Chiasso in 2003 after a twenty-year absence as Head of Delegation. The response to Mario’s presence was very emotional. All the bocce dignitaries treated Mario as a real VIP. He was interviewed on television and had several articles written about him in the Italian and Swiss newspapers.
In 1987 Mario organized the first international bocce event in the United States by bringing the Italian champion volo team from Turin, Italy to play an exhibition in Highwood. In 1994, Mario was appointed the International Delegate to the World Congress representing the United States Bocce Federation. This is one of the main reasons Mario is so well recognized throughout Europe and South America by the bocce community.
If you ask Mario, the pinnacle of his bocce career was the realization of a World Cup in the United States. This dream was finally realized when Mario, along with three other USBF board members, hosted the 1996 World Team Punto, Raffa, Volo World Championships at his beloved Highwood Club. In all, fourteen countries were represented and the International Congress deemed the event one of the best World Cup events ever held.
Mario has served his club well holding the position of president for twelve years, but more importantly, he has lived a life of bocce. He is always the first to get involved in running tournaments, calling Italy for help with technical questions, and is a true artist in making scoreboards and anything that needs to be done. If you talk to Mario you better be prepared to hear a lot about the “good, old days” when he could shoot on the fly with the best! Mario is still actively playing and still promoting the game, as he always will. If Chris Gerardo was the “godfather” of the USBF, then certainly Mario Massa should be considered bocce’s “padrino”! Congratulations Mario on your election to the USBF Wall of Honor. It is a well-deserved honor!
Adriano Undorte was born June 19, 1929 in Vesime, Italy. Vesime is located in the province of Asti, in Italy’s northern wine country. His mother was a homemaker and his father was the mayor of the town and also a cobbler who sold and repaired shoes. Adriano recalled that his father was too nice and gave away too many free repair jobs or pairs of shoes to friends in need! Two of his father’s hobbies were bocce and winemaking, both of which Adriano adopted in later years. His father was a very good bocce player and there were three courts in the town when Adriano was growing up. Adriano still owns the family house in Versime and he and his wife Sandy visit every year for a month. Adriano lamented that he never got to play with his father, and that the bocce courts he remembers watching his father playing on are no longer in existence.
Adriano was drafted into the Italian navy and served two years. After his military service he studied engineering, and came to the United States as an exchange student. He returned to Italy but had a desire to continue his engineering studies in the United States. His uncle, Michael Corino, was a famous musician and bandleader in San Francisco and offered to sponsor Adriano. Upon arrival at Ellis Island in 1952, Adriano signed papers agreeing to stay in the United States in case of national emergency instead of being returned to Italy. Adriano resumed his engineering studies and then was promptly drafted into the United States Army because of the Korean War!
As a member of the U.S. Army Tank Corps, he spent two years in Germany. Adriano was an excellent snow skier and was sent on temporary duty to ski with the Army ski team during the winter in Europe. He received his U.S. citizenship while serving in the Army. After he was discharged, he returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to resume his studies.
Adriano was attending a dance in San Francisco where his uncle was performing and had the good fortune to meet his future wife Sandy. They settled in San Mateo where they still reside. They have been married for 48 years and have two grown children, Steven and Kathy.
Adriano joined the Peninsula Social Club in San Mateo, CA in 1950 when he was a student. He was inactive during his early years, but became very active after his military service and engineering studies were completed. He has served in many capacities at the club over the years and is now the historian of the club. He did not take up playing bocce, however, until 1980, when his friend Bruno Freschet taught him how to play the game. He attended the National Championships in 1982 and was elected Secretary of the USBF. In 1984 he served as the coach of the U.S. Volo team at the World Championships in Yugoslavia. In 1992 at the National Championships in Memphis he was elected treasurer. The checkbook balance at that time was $167. When he retired in 2002, the balance was $55,186.97! Adriano also served on the tournament committee and worked many long hours when the Peninsula Social Club hosted the 1984 and 1991 National Championships.
Although he came to the game later in life, he is very pleased with the five first place finishes his teams have earned at the Peppermill tournament in Reno, Nevada. The best part about his bocce experience says Adriano, is meeting the hundreds of people over the years that have become his and Sandy’s friends. He says that bocce players all over the United States and the World constitute an incredible extended circle of friends. When he is not working on a tournament or organizing leagues, one of his newer hobbies is growing orchids. He says that he bought Sandy one for Christmas some years ago and now has over 100 orchids of many different varieties!
One of his favorite achievements involving bocce was helping to start the Festa Italiana di San Mateo. The 19th annual Festa was held on July 24, 2005. Many of the downtown streets are blocked off and all the money raised goes to the Festa Foundation that supports very deserving charities. Among the many events is a bocce tournament for developmentally disabled people that is a wonderful event to see. It is hard to determine if the smiles on the participants or the volunteers are the brighter ones!
Adriano recently said, “Being named to the USBF Wall of Honor is the greatest honor any bocce player could have.” We are privileged to have Adriano Undorte on our USBF Wall of Honor. Thank you, Adriano for all your years of hard work and dedication to the sport.
Aldo Della Croce
Aldo Della Croce was born in Bagni di Lucca, Italy. He came to the United States in 1958 and was employed by Figure Craft, a manufacturer of concrete statues. Aldo became the sole owner of the company in 1975. He created a magnificent statue of the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus as a wall shrine and donated the statue to the Italia–America Bocce Club in St. Louis, Missouri. The statue is located on the Marconi Street side of the club and was blessed by Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of St. Louis, in August of 1997.
Aldo joined the Fratellanza Society in 1968 and has held several offices over the years including the presidency from 1970 to 1975. In 1972, while president, he started the Fratellanza Bocce League. There was great interest in bocce generated by the league and in 1975 he assisted in founding the Italia – America Club doing business as the St. Louis Bocce Club. Aldo served as president of this organization from its inception in 1975 to 1993 and is a current board member of the club. His tireless efforts have seen the transformation of what was once an old structure that housed firebricks to one of the finest private bocce clubs in the United States. Through his leadership the Italia – America Bocce Club has hosted four United States Championship Tournaments!
Aldo is a skilled bocce player and has used his expertise to win silver and bronze medals at several team events at United States Championship Bocce Tournaments. He was awarded a plaque by the USBF for his efforts in promoting the game of bocce. Aldo, along with USBF founder Chris Gerardo and other USBF officers proposed that the International Olympic Committee include bocce in the Olympic Games. Partly as a result of their petition, and with help from the USBF international affiliates, bocce was recognized as a potential Olympic Sport in 1986 by the president of the IOC, Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch.
Aldo is not only a great leader, but also a man who works very hard “in the trenches” to help the club accomplish its goals. He has spent many backbreaking hours in the club’s kitchen preparing food for the many fund-raisers necessary to build and support the club.
Aldo has received many awards over the years including: A plaque from the Italia – America Bocce Club for his dedication and his 18 years of service as president of the club; An award from the chamber of commerce of Lucca, Italy; The president of the Republic of Italy bestowed the rank of Cavaliere Stella della Solidarieta Italiana for service in the Italian Community; Proclamations from the Mayor of St. Louis and also from the County of St. Louis; The Mother Cabrini Award from the Columbus Day Corporation; A resolution for all his achievements from the Missouri House of Representatives.
It is with great pleasure that the members of the USBF welcome Aldo Della Croce to our Wall of Honor!
Tom Albanese was born on September 25, 1946 in San Jose, California. He is a second generation Italian-American. His grandfather came to the United States in the 1890s from Campobasso, Italy, and Tom’s father was born in the United States. He was raised in the Santa Clara Valley and spent his entire life in the valley. He went to Santa Clara University where he met and fell in love with his late wife Maureen. After graduation in 1968 Tom served in the United States Marine Corps. After his discharge he and Maureen married and raised three beautiful daughters while living in the Town of Los Gatos and later in Saratoga. Tom and Maureen had a wonderful thirty-five years together before her untimely passing. Tom works in the concrete ready mix business running Central Concrete Supply based in San Jose, California.
Tom is the owner and founder of Campo di Bocce of Los Gatos, and the new Campo di Bocce of Livermore. Although Tom is not a national bocce champion or known as a tournament bocce player, he is one of the great friends of the game and one of the strongest supporters of the USBF.
His vision in building a first class facility where beginners and experts can enjoy the game and also a fine meal has inspired others to continue with the concept, most notably the Palazzo di Bocce in Orion, Michigan.
Our sport and the USBF have gained national and international exposure because of some of the events hosted by Tom. These include the 2000 friendship games with China, Italy, and France, the 2002 National Bocce Championships, the 2006 North American Championships and forthcoming 2007 National Bocce Championships at the new club in Livermore, and the many charity and celebrity charity bocce events held over the years. Since opening the first Campo di Bocce in 1997, hundreds of thousands of people have passed through the doors and have been exposed to this wonderful game. Counting repeat visits, it may be said that close to a million customer visits have occurred over the last ten years at the Los Gatos club.
One of Tom’s passions is hosting charity bocce tournaments. As a matter of fact a line from the brochure for the Livermore club promotes bocce events at the club as follows: “Bocce Leagues, USBF Tournaments, & Charity Events”
Over a million dollars has been raised for worthy causes via the celebrity bocce tournament format pioneered by Tom and his friends Steve Mariucci and John Madden.
A quote from Tom’s remarks included in the program from the 2002 National Championships says it best:
“…I had noticed that through my association with the Los Gatos Bocce Club and my involvement with family and charity bocce parties at my house for St. Mary’s Church it had become noticeable that this game was made for everybody. I also realized that life was too short not to try and provide an environment where people could enjoy a simple game that also could be played by all groups, all ages, men and women, and all nationalities – truly a unique sport that cannot be surpassed.”
It is with great pleasure that the members of the USBF welcome Tom Albanese to our wall of honor!