2018 - St. John’s Beats Naval Academy in Annapolis Cup


Generic Staff Writer

April 14, 2018 | By Tim Pratt

Congrats St. Johns

St. John’s Imperial Wicket Shane Hettler (A18) receives the 2018 Annapolis Cup from U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Walter E. “Ted” Carter Jr. The St. John’s College croquet team won the 2018 Annapolis Cup Saturday, outlasting the neighboring United States Naval Academy 3-2.
The win, in front of a crowd of more than 5,000 people, was the fourth in a row for the Johnnies and their 29th in the 36-year history of the event.

The pairing of Tom Balding (A20) and Sean Miller (A20) secured the win for St. John’s, breaking a 2-2 tie as darkness set in over the front lawn of the college. “I don’t think I was not tense one moment that entire game,” said Balding, who hit the winning shot,“but it’s amazing. It’s everything I wanted.”

This was the second year in a row Miller was on the tie-breaking team. At the 2017 Annapolis Cup, he paired with Chris McGowen (A19) to secure a 3-2 win for the Johnnies. “Like I said last year, there’s no greater feeling than winning the tie-breaker for your team,” Miller said. “Tom played great, the team played great. It’s nice the whole thing came together for the second year in a row.”


The Annapolis Cup began in the early 1980s. It has since grown into a rite of spring in Annapolis.
The front lawn of the college this year was packed with spectators. The Naval Academy Trident Brass Band played throughout the afternoon. The red brick walkway in front of the Barr Buchanan Center served as the dance floor.

“My first experience of the Annapolis Cup was inspiring,” said St. John’s President Panayiotis Kanelos. “I am so grateful that we have maintained this tradition with our good friends at the Naval Academy. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful and invigorating day, and a spirited match to the finish.”

2019 Annapolis Cup Croquet Match: April 27


Paul Bennett

An annual rite of spring, the Annapolis Cup brings together two starkly different schools—St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy—for a croquet match like no other. The community-wide event attracts several thousand people to the heart of Annapolis for a festive lawn party complete with outrageous costumes, old-fashioned picnics, swing dancing, and, of course, croquet competition.
Check back later for more information about 2019 ticket sales and ground rules.

St Johns College News

The Annapolis Cup Croquet Match


With the 2018 victory, St. John’s has won the Annapolis Cup 29 out of 36 matches; the Midshipmen have taken the trophy seven times. (See Victories below.)


According to legend, the rivalry began in 1982 when the commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy was speaking with St. John’s freshman Kevin Heyburn and remarked that the Midshipmen could beat the Johnnies in any sport. “What about croquet?” was the Johnnie’s retort. He later proposed the match to a group of Midshipmen in the interest of fostering better relations between the schools.

The Trophy

The Annapolis Cup, which has been housed everywhere from the Little Campus (now Galway Bay) to a storage closet to the front window of 49 West in Annapolis, is now kept by the victors.


The Midshipmen wear crisp, U.S. Croquet Association croquet whites, along with a team tie, varying from year to year. The Johnnie uniform changes every year, revealed only minutes before each match. Past years have included camouflage, tuxedoes, Viking clothing, kilts, and even imitation USNA Crackerjacks. Several Plebes in dress mess uniforms serve the players refreshments.
United States Croquet Association Collegiate National Championships: Both the St. John’s and the Naval Academy teams compete in the United States Croquet Association Collegiate National Championships.


In preparation for the match, both St. John’s and the Naval Academy play the Ginger Cove Croquet Team, from the Ginger Cove retirement community. They have met a few weeks prior to the St. John’s match each year since 1992. The day before the match, the Johnnies have lunch with the Midshipmen at the Academy mess hall, where the Imperial Wicket for the Johnnies formally challenges the Midshipmen to a match. The match opens with music. The St. John’s Freshman Chorus sings and the Naval Academy Trident Brass band plays. The Johnnies emerge in their surprise uniforms. At 1 p.m., the ceremonial first ball is struck.


Courtesy and good sportsmanship are expected of all players. No players may throw a mallet or hit a ball in protest or anger. No trash talk is allowed.
How the game is played: The game played at the annual match is nine-wicket croquet. A full-size croquet court is a rectangle 100 feet long and 50 feet wide. Nine metal wickets and two wooden stakes are arranged in a double diamond pattern. The object of the game is to advance the balls through the course by hitting them with a mallet, scoring a point for each wicket and stake made in the correct order and direction. The winner is the first side to score 14 wicket points and 2 stake points for each of its balls. For the Annapolis Cup, each side has 12 players divided into two-person teams.


  • 2018 – Johnnies
  • 2017 – Johnnies
  • 2016 – Johnnies
  • 2015 – Johnnies
  • 2014 – Midshipmen
  • 2013 – Midshipmen
  • 2012 – Johnnies
  • 2011 – Johnnies
  • 2010 – Johnnies
  • 2009 – Johnnies
  • 2008 – Johnnies
  • 2007 – Johnnies
  • 2006 – Johnnies
  • 2005 – Midshipmen
  • 2004 – Johnnies
  • 2003 – Johnnies
  • 2002 – Johnnies
  • 2001 – Midshipmen
  • 2000 – Johnnies
  • 1999 – Johnnies
  • 1998 – Johnnies
  • 1997 – Johnnies
  • 1996 – Johnnies
  • 1995 – Johnnies
  • 1994 – Johnnies
  • 1993 – Johnnies
  • 1992 – Johnnies
  • 1991 – Midshipmen
  • 1990 – Johnnies
  • 1989 – Johnnies
  • 1988 – Johnnies
  • 1987 – Midshipmen
  • 1986 – Johnnies
  • 1985 – Midshipmen
  • 1984 – Johnnies
  • 1983 – Johnnies
  • ——————————————-
  • 29-7 Johnnies-Midshipmen

Event Proceeds

In addition to covering the cost of the event and supporting student scholarships, proceeds from the event will also benefit the following:

  • Light House, a homeless prevention support center
  • Centro de Ayuda/Center of Help
  • Stanton Community Center
  • Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis

A Closer look at the Annapolis Cup


Michael Rumbin

St. Johns College and Navy keep the tradition going.


Collins keeps the Cup!


Michael Rumbin

St. Johns over Navy 3-2 in the 33rd match.


Getting Ready for The 33rd St. Johns-Navy Match Up


Michael Rumbin

The 33rd matchup is on for 2015. Will Navy prevail, or will the Johnnies take it back?


Will Collins lead the Johnnies to Victory? - St Johns-Annapolis Cup


Michael Rumbin

St Johns-Annapolis Cup Tradition Continues


Pageantry Shines at St. John's, Navy Croquet Match


Nayana Davis

High fashion and camaraderie were the stars of the annual event.


'Wicket' Tradition Celebrates 30th Year


Nayana Davis

The 30th annual croquet match between St. John’s College and the Naval Academy is scheduled for Saturday.