Annapolis Cup Croquet - Tradition

by Paul Bennett · 22 April 2019

Tradition – Throwing down the Gauntlet

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.


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 Johnnies recently won the USCA Nationals in Florida. Yes, Shane is an alumni of the college and the croquet team. I don’t know for certain about other players who have continued in the sport of croquet, but I know that Jared Bassman (A20) will be playing in the 2019 U21 Golf Croquet World Championship in London this summer. Another teammate, Tom Balding, recently won a major tournament in fall 2018.

Facts obtained from the St Johns College website with the help and thanks from Kimberly Uslin.

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