The annual croquet match takes place between the U.S. Naval Academy and St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. This is the only sport in which the two compete. The two campuses lie less than a half-mile apart. One school was established in 1845, the other in 1696. One has a student body of 4,500, the other 450. Yet tiny St. John’s has dominated the cross-town rivalry, taking the trophy 25 of the 30 years the competition has been going on.
The Naval Academy team is comprised exclusively of members of 28th Company, chosen at the team captain’s discretion. 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. Additionally, several Plebes (first year Midshipmen) in dress mess uniforms serve refreshments to the players.
Spectators come dressed in all manner of finery, with a heavy emphasis on historical tradition, formal dress, ballroom dancewear, or the just plain outlandish. A mixture of live and piped in music playing primarily big band and swing tunes provides the fleet of foot with ample opportunity to step out.