What is the Annapolis Cup?

What is the Annapolis Cup?

The Annapolis Cup is a rite of Spring in Maryland's Historic State Capital.

An annual rite of spring, the Annapolis Cup brings together two vastly different schools—St. John’s College (SJC) and the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). The 2019 Annapolis Cup Croquet Match takes place on Saturday, April 27th. And it is a croquet match like no other. Thousands from throughout the Annapolis area gather on the front lawn of St. John’s College, right in the heart of Maryland’s Historic State Capital. During the community-wide event, attendees experience a festive lawn party complete with outrageous costumes, old-fashioned picnics, swing dancing, and, of course, croquet competition.

A Legendary Tale

How did it all begin? According to the legend, the friendly rivalry began in 1982. The USNA commandant was speaking with SJC freshmen, Kyle Heyburn. The commandant casually remarked that the Midshipmen could beat the Johnnies (the affectionate SJC student nickname) in any sport. “What about croquet?” The Johnnie challenged. He went a step further and later challenged the Mids (an affectionate USNA nickname) to a match. Hence, in the spirit of encouraging better relations between the two schools, The Annapolis Cup was born.

Donning of Gay Apparel

What will the Johnnies wear? Huh? The reveal of the Johnnies croquet attire has become the best moment in the match. Let us explain. The Mids have always worn the traditional crisp, U.S. Croquet Association croquet whites as well as a team tie, which varies from year to year. However, The Johnnie uniform changes every year. The best-kept secret in town, The Johnnies emerge only moments before the match. To the surprise of their competitors and the crowd, past years have included camouflage, tuxedoes, Viking clothing, kilts, tie-dye from head to toe, even imitation USNA Crackerjacks. Plebes on the sidelines partake in fun, dressed in mess uniforms, serving the players refreshments.

Tradition and Etiquette

The day before the match, the Johnnies have lunch with the Midshipmen at the Academy mess hall. It is at this time, the Imperial Wicket for the Johnnies formally challenges the Midshipmen to the match. The day of the match, courtesy and good sportsmanship are expected of all players. No trash talk is allowed. The game opens with music: The St. John’s Freshman Chorus sings and the Naval Academy Trident Brass band plays. Then, only moments before the start, the Johnnies emerge in their surprise uniforms. The ceremonial first ball is struck at 1 PM. Both the St. John’s and the Naval Academy teams compete in the United States Croquet Association Collegiate National Championships.

And The Winner Is…

With their 2018 victory, St. John’s has won the Annapolis Cup 29 out of 36 matches. While the Midshipmen have taken the trophy seven times. The Annapolis Cup, which has been housed everywhere from “the Little Campus” (now Galway Bay) to a storage closet (ha!) to the front window of 49 West in Annapolis, is now kept by the victors.

The Deets

Currently, tickets for the 2019 Annapolis Cup, on Saturday, April 27th are sold out. The match goes on rain or shine. There is no re-entry, and also no refunds or exchanges. If you are lucky enough to have a ticket, you will see the biggest promenade of Annapolis spring fashion, from all eras. All while enjoying music, fun, and the biggest annual community picnic in the heart of Annapolis. You are allowed to bring in a picnic lunch. So we suggest you stop by Naval Bagels for bags of bagels and toppings as well as sandwiches and beverages. Click here for all the details!

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