January 6, 2014

10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Go To The Annapolis Croquet Match At Least Once

Once a year, my hometown (and arguably one of the most beautiful towns on the Eastern seaboard), Annapolis, MD, throws a croquet match between the Naval Academy’s Midshipmen and the Johnnies of St John’s. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1982, when, according to legend, the commandant of the Naval Academy insisted to a freshman Johnnie that the Middies could beat them at any sport. The freshman suggested that they would win at croquet, the challenge was accepted, and the game was born. To this day — this year on April 12th, for those looking to make the journey — the event is an annual celebration that the whole town looks forward to. Here, 10 reasons why everyone should see it at least once.

1. Croquet is an amazing sport.

It just is! It’s so fancy, and charming, and is one of the few sports in which wearing a cardigan and crisp white pants with an ironed crease is not a detriment to performance. “Thwack!” go the tiny balls, and “clink!” go the champagne glasses of the spectators. It’s lovely.

2. You get to dress up in Gatsby-ish outfits.

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Look, it’s me and a friend getting to play dress-up. (Ignore the people in the background who clearly do not have the spirit, they are the people who show up to Halloween parties “dressed as themselves.” Don’t you want to bust out your nicest clothes and put a blanket on a historic lawn? Of course you do.

3. You day drink.

You sit on the gorgeous, sprawling lawn, vaguely watch the game, and drink whatever you chose to bring that day. I recommend champagne, of course, but a nice rosé or even a teacup full of gin and Mountain Dew is not out of place at croquet.

4. Big hats.

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Look at this incredibly fancy couple! Look at them!

5. The Naval Academy and St John’s are hilarious rivals.

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For the uninitiated, Midshipmen are amongst the most clean-cut and traditional college students in the world, and St John’s is like the fever dream of every philosophy student to ever try and work ancient Greek into a sentence at a house party (and I fully expect a Johnnie or two to vigorously dispute this). In any case, though, you couldn’t create a better rivalry if you had total literary freedom.

6. The surroundings are beautiful.

I hate to brag on my city, because it’s obnoxious, but downtown Annapolis is truly gorgeous. It’s all historic and beautiful (it was even briefly the nation’s capital), and the grounds on which the match is held — a lawn of St John’s — is truly lovely. It’s lush and green and full of Georgian architecture, and just a few steps away from the harbor, filled with gently bobbing sailboats. It’s the stuff of gin-buzzed daydreams.

7. Midshipmen are, well, look at them:

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They’re all that Channing Tatum-brand hottie, and dressed like Richard Gere in Officer and A Gentleman. Come on.

8. St John’s almost always wins.

Which is cool, because they practice really hard for it, and it’s not like they’re out here getting those lucrative college sports dollars.

9. There is swing dancing.

And it goes well into the night.

10. You get to feel incredibly fancy for no reason.

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There are so few occasions in life to dress up, sip your drink, and watch such a novelty sport on the lawn with friends. Everyone gets to feel, if only for a moment, like some blue-blooded distant family member of a railroad tycoon, and you don’t have to exploit child labor to do so! You owe it to yourself to take that beautiful Saturday afternoon and go do something really out of the ordinary, and break out your grandparents’ finest silks while you’re at it. I’ll see you there. TC mark