News & Publications
29th Annual St. John's–Naval Academy Croquet Match
A Grand Lawn Party in Historic Annapolis
FOR RELEASE: November 22, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
Bring the whole family to the heart of historic Annapolis for a grand lawn party along the sidelines of the 29th Annual Annapolis Cup―a croquet match between St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy. Each year the match, a cherished rite of spring, promises superb intercollegiate competition and lavish champagne picnics; it’s a party where watching the spectators is as much a sport as croquet.
Since the contest began more than two decades ago, the Johnnies have dominated most years winning 23 matches out of 28. Who will win this year?
This year, the Johnnies and the Mids meet on the St. John’s campus in a rivalry for the Annapolis Cup on April 30 at 1 p.m. Rain date: May 1. The match is free and open to the public. Grills and kegs are not permitted. Note: Rain Date is Sunday, May 1.
The elaborate fashions worn by spectators, reminiscent of the stylish lawn parties depicted in books like “The Great Gatsby” are often more of an attraction than the croquet.“The spectators have become more of a spectacle than the game,” says Leo Pickens, director of athletics at St. John’s. 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 about 1,500 spectators. Many are 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 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, home to the great books program, 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 Mids to establish a common ground.
The Johnnies play in uniforms –ranging from camouflage khakis and helmeted Vikings to kilts and bare feet–that change each year. The uniforms are a closely guarded secret, revealed at the opening of the match. The Mids adhere to the United States 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 Mids combine their competitive zeal with the genteel demeanor demanded by croquet’s rules of etiquette including no audible swearing, or tantrum like displays such as throwing a mallet in protest of a referee’s call.
For more information and directions, visit:
St. John’s College website:
Annapolis Conference and Visitor Bureau:
Historic Inns of Annapolis:
Restaurants and events in the Annapolis area: