Thousands gathered on the Great Lawn at St. John;s College this afternoon to partake in the 32nd Annual Annapolis Cup–a croquet battle between the St. John’s College Johnnies and the Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy.
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 train for military careers. The annual croquet match allows Johnnies and Midshipmen to establish a common ground.
Croquet spectators, as usual, donned elaborate fashions reminiscent of the stylish lawn parties depicted in books like “The Great Gatsby.” The festive atmosphere included 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 with a few surprise soloists in the mix. Approximately 2,500 spectators were on hand, many of them St. John’s College alumni who see it as a springtime reunion.
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. This year, the attire was toga-casual. 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.