A beloved Annapolis tradition continues as St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy battle for victory—and bragging rights—at the 34th annual Annapolis Cup. Bring the whole family to this croquet match that promises superb intercollegiate competition as well as 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 26 matches out of 33. Who will win the 34th? The Johnnies and the Midshipmen meet on the St. John’s campus for this year’s Annapolis Cup on Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m. Rain date: Sunday, April 17.
No outside alcohol is permitted on campus; however, food, soft drinks, beer, wine, and champagne will be available for cash purchase. More details are available at www.sjc.edu/croquet.
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; 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 thousands of 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.
For more information about St. John’s College, visit: www.sjc.edu