View the entire York Daily Record article by Neil Strebig here.
When you think bar games, it’s often the usual staples: darts, pool and maybe shuffleboard.
Bocce ball? Not so much.
“It kind of builds on that Italian culture [of] people spending time together and enjoying each other’s company and throwing a little sport on top of it,” Victor’s co-owner Mark Sindicich said.
On Sunday, Aug. 25, Victor’s in Spring Garden Township celebrated 35 years of its bocce league. It’s a league that started out on the same premise of any old dart board or pool table addition — it was something to do.
“It was a nothing put a dirt pile,” Bonnie Radel said of the original court.
Radel, a retired Dallastown school teacher and her husband, Eugene “Dunner” Radel, a retired Edgar Fahs Smith School principal, have been playing for nearly 20 years now and recall the early days of the league as more or a less a group of regulars who got bit by the bocce bug.
“It was basically people that hung out here,” Eugene said.
The Radels said that the league has taken on a larger life over the years, bridging the gaps between generations and socioeconomic differences between patrons. In a region where residents can often come off as rigid, they’ve noticed barriers being broken down between individuals and teams involved in the league.
The league came about after former owner Harold Fitzkee built the original court. The late Fitzkee owned the restaurant with his wife, Eunice.
When Springettsbury Township resident Del Miller first saw the court, it was his first time seeing bocce.
Lorie Galbraith, who has been playing at the court for ten years, rolls out a ball during a Bocce Ball tournament at Victor’s Italian Restaurant in Spring Garden Township. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record)
“When I saw it, I thought, why would you want to do that?” Miller said
The 85-year-old Miller has been playing since 1993. Despite his initial reluctance to play the game, he’s become an integral part of the league, earning the moniker the “bocce master.” While he brushes off the nickname, Miller is just happy to be a part of the league and is quick to point out that while the Fitzkees started bocce at Victor’s, it was the Sindiciches who helped turn the league into something larger than just a few patrons enjoying a lawn game.
Registration for the league is first come, first served, and in April, when the sign-up day arrives, players are waiting two, three hours before the restaurant opens, Miller said.
When Sindicich and his wife Marie took over the property in 2007, they inherited the bocce league. At the time was a small operation run by the players and some of the staff members and understood that this game was an integral part of the restaurant’s identity, Mark said.