Wickets And Mallets Keep Them Young Anne Arundel Seniors

June 23, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

With one precise swing of his arms, 78-year-old Roy Snowdon can strike fear into most of his opponents.

As a member of the Ginger Cove Croquet Team, Mr. Snowdon is known as the "wickedest wicket of the west."

And he lived up to his reputation last month when he and five teammates bested a St. John's College team in tournament play, taking back the prestigious Generation Gap Trophy from players 50 years their junior.

Tom Reed, 80 years old and the imperial wicket -- that's team captain to the uninitiated -- said with a chuckle, "Boy, we really took advantage of them this year."

Mason Lindsey, former singles tournament winner, was more generous. "They played with great skill and competitiveness," the 75-year-old said. "There was no attitude of youth and age on the field."

Each year, the Ginger Cove team battles St. John's College for the trophy, which symbolizes the good relationship between young and old. St. John's won the first year -- 1989 -- and again in 1990 and 1992.

Polly Williams, one of three tournament winning women, acknowledges she gets antsy when playing the college students. "We tell them they better hurry because we can't stand still that long," said the 76-year-old. "They like to plan and strategize for a while."

Mrs. Williams, who had never played or even seen a croquet game before 1989, said she decided to pick up the mallet to replace the golf club, because this sport "was much cheaper.

"I knew I had to do something to keep moving," she said. "Getting out in the open air and proving I can still walk -- that's what croquet means to me."

When the Ginger Cove Croquet Team of Annapolis was created in 1989 by the late E. Bates McKee, its membership was less than 20. Today, more than 60 mallet-wielding seniors between the ages of 70 and 93 participate.

The croquet team has a following and gets a big boost from the Ginger Cove community, Mr. Reed said. The games against St. John's and the Naval Academy brought out crowds of 40 to 50 people, and the clapping and cheering could be heard around the small, waterfront community.

As imperial wicket, Mr. Reed is responsible for setting up four or five tournaments each year and picking the teams.

"The game is fun and thrilling, but most important it's formed friendships and bonds," Mr. Reed said.

Mr. Snowdon, who has teamed with Mrs. Williams for five years, said, "You've got to have a little simpatico in order to get along with your partner.

"It's also a game woman can play equally with men. There's no strength differential," he added as he dropped a singles match to Mrs. Williams.

Mr. Lindsey, who played the game as a child, plays now because, "It's a little friendly competition. We all shake hands at the end of the game. The essence of this is all voluntary and everyone plays because they enjoy it."

On Saturday, Mr. Lindsey and Bill Krause will square off against Dick Dutton and Bimby Downing in the final game of the June Consolation Tournament.

Mr. Snowdon, who will be on the sidelines, said, "You don't have to be old to play, but it helps."

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