January 31, 2023
Annapolis, US 38 F

It’s April–time for the Annapolis Cup and croquet at St. John’s College

Annapolis Cup (Croquet 2014)

Annapolis Cup (Croquet 2014)Spend the afternoon in the heart of historic Annapolis for the 33rd annual Annapolis Cup—a croquet match between St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy. An Annapolis tradition, the match promises superb intercollegiate competition as well as a festive lawn party where spectators don vintage-inspired attire, enjoy lavish picnics, and swing dance to live music. Since the contest began more than three decades ago, the Johnnies have dominated, winning 25 matches out of 32. Who will win the 33rd? This year, the Johnnies and the Midshipmen continue their longstanding rivalry on the St. John’s campus front lawn on Saturday, April 18 at 1 p.m. This event is free. Rain date: Sunday, April 19.

Please note the ground rules: No outside alcohol permitted on campus; however, food, soft drinks, beer, wine, and champagne will be available for cash-only purchase. Tent spaces are available but must be reserved in advance. 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.

Annapolis Cup (Croquet 2014)Croquet spectators wear elaborate fashions reminiscent of the stylish lawn parties depicted in books like “The Great Gatsby.” The festive atmosphere includes elaborate picnics, nostalgic gowns and wide-brimmed 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 togas to the Waldo character from the “Where’s Waldo?” books—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, visit: www.sjc.edu

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