Bring the whole family to the heart of historic Annapolis for the 32nd Annual Annapolis Cup—a croquet match between St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy. The match promises superb intercollegiate competition and a festive lawn party where watching the spectators is as much fun as croquet. Since the contest began more than two decades ago, the Johnnies have dominated, winning 25 matches out of 31. Who will win the 32nd? This year, the Johnnies and the Midshipmen meet on the St. John’s campus in a rivalry for the Annapolis Cup on Saturday, April 12 at 1 p.m. This event is free. Rain date: Sunday, April 13.
Please note the ground rules: No outside alcohol permitted on campus, however, food, soft drinks, beer, wine, and champagne will be available for purchase; tent spaces must now be reserved in advance. More details are available on the St. John’s College Croquet page at www.sjc.edu/events.
The Annapolis Cup brings together two starkly different institutions for an event that has “no parallel in intercollegiate sports,” according to “Sports Illustrated.” At St. John’s College, students read and discuss seminal works of Western civilization, and at the U.S. Naval Academy, Midshipmen and women train for military careers. The annual croquet match allows Johnnies and Midshipmen to establish a common ground.
Croquet spectators don elaborate fashions reminiscent of the stylish lawn parties depicted in books like “The Great Gatsby.” The festive atmosphere includes lavish picnics, nostalgic gowns and hats, serenades by the St. John’s Freshman Chorus, and swing music provided by the Naval Academy’s Trident Brass Band. The event draws approximately 2,000 spectators, many of them St. John’s College alumni who see it as a springtime reunion, Navy families who relish a chance to cheer for their team, and regional residents who enjoy an old-fashioned community event and a visit to historic Annapolis.
The Johnnies play in uniforms—ranging from camouflage khakis to USNA imitation Crackerjacks to Vikings to bare feet—that change each year and are kept secret until the opening of the match. The Midshipmen adhere to the U.S. Croquet Association’s code, wearing spotless white shirts, pants, sweaters, and shoes, and change only their ties from year to year.
For both teams in this nine-wicket game, “the purest intercollegiate athletic event in America” according to “Gentleman’s Quarterly,” the rules of play and sportsmanship are paramount. The Johnnies and Midshipmen combine their competitive zeal with the genteel demeanor demanded by croquet’s rules of etiquette, which include no audible swearing or tantrum-like displays such as throwing a mallet in protest of a referee’s call.