18 April 2008
St. John's College, Annapolis, Maryland, USA
by Diane M. Rey in The Capital, Annapolis, Maryland, USA
|Ginger Cove croquet team member Bill Krause, left, and St. John's College imperial wicket Ian Hanover, right, vied with their teammates for the Generation Gap Cup.|
For the first time, the Generation Gap Cup may be engraved with the odd score of 2 1/2 to 1/2.After April showers threatened to wash out play two weekends in a row, croquet teams from the Ginger Cove retirement community and St. John's College were able to finish out their annual rite-of-spring matchup on Saturday.
Following a two-game lead by the Johnnies, the teams headed into a hard-fought third and final round. Play ended early when the skies opened up, and the players decided to call the close last game an official tie.
"It was a unique situation and a nice way to end up the competition," Ginger Cove player Bill Krause said.
"This was a pretty spirited match," said St. John's imperial wicket Ian Hanover of New York City. "We had them biting their nails at some points, and we were biting our nails at others."
The teams first met April 6 on the Ginger Cove croquet field named for the late E. Bates McKee, a graduate of St. John's College who spent his final years at the retirement community located off Riva Road and began the inter-generational competition in 1989.
The teams sat down for a hearty buffet lunch and got in some good-natured bantering before cold, steady rain showers had them packing up their wooden mallets and rescheduling the match.
Although members of the two teams are about 60 years apart in age, the play generally is pretty competitive.
The Generation Gap Cup, a silver bowl that sits on a shelf in an alcove off Ginger Cove's lobby, shows 11 wins for St. John's and six for Ginger Cove over the years (no score was recorded for 1997).
But two years ago, when the Johnnies were collegiate national champions, they fell to the Ginger Cove team by a score of two games to one.
"We're all senior citizens here, and they're young and active and able," said Nancy Morgan, Ginger Cove's "imperial wicket" from 2005 to 2007. "We always feel if we win one game, we've accomplished something."
It's a game that benefits more from skill and experience than physical strength.
"It's a fascinating game — all strategy. It's the strategy that really wins the game," Nancy said.
"It's a kind of combination of chess and golf," Bill said. "The secret is to help your partner and knock your opponents out of position."
Ginger Cove maintains a lively croquet intramural league, with singles and doubles tournaments each spring and fall. Some residents play, while others, like Nancy Neikirk, coordinate the lunches and other social niceties that accompany this genteel sport. For the recent matchup against St. John's, the six players on Ginger Cove's team side stood out in their white pants and white shirts.
On Sunday they were back on the croquet field, taking on the team from the Naval Academy. That match also proved unusual. The teams split the first two rounds, but the third round is undecided, pending a decision by the United States Croquet Association on the game-ending play.
Matching their skills against those of their younger counterparts were Ginger Cove residents Alan Schragger, William (Bill) Krause, William (Bill) Tilley, Ella Bassett, Nancy Morgan, Fran Childs, Dwight Bartlett and Sam Gustaves.
No matter the score, there were smiles on both sides following these friendly competitions that serve as run-ups to Sunday's St. John's vs. Naval Academy matchup.
"It's a lot of fun to play the members here," said Ian, and Bill Krause agreed.
"It's fun to be with the young folks. They're full of life, lots of vitality," he said.
Nodding toward the St. John's teammates with their shaggy hair and beards, he joked, "They have a lot more hair than I've got."
The 26th annual Annapolis Cup croquet match between St. John's College and the Naval Academy begins at 1 p.m. Sunday on the St. John's lawn along College Avenue.
For this match, there is no rain date. Admission is free. For information, call 410-626-2539 or visit www.stjohnscollege.edu.