At a meeting held on March 11, 2013, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) reviewed and discussed the design candidates for the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins. The program was authorized to recognize and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. This is an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to preserving history, honoring excellence, and connecting generations through the rich history of baseball.
The program will include $5 gold coins, silver dollars, and clad composition half dollars. Under the authorizing legislation, to the extent possible, the reverse of the gold coin and silver dollar are to be convex to closely resemble a baseball, while the obverse designs are to be concave. The legislation further provides that the reverse of all three coins will depict a baseball similar to those used by Major League Baseball. There will be a national competition launched in the spring of 2013 to determine the common obverse design, which will be emblematic of the game of baseball.
The CCAC reviewed six different reverse design candidates provided by the United States Mint for the gold coin, silver dollar, and half dollar. The six variations were the same across the three different different coins with the exception of the inscription of the denomination. The six candidates for the gold coin are shown below.
United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart, who was present at the meeting, explained that the inscriptions shown in black will be incused and mirrored on the proof version of the coin. The surface of the baseball would show some texture as represented by the shading on the design candidate images.
Ken Meiftert, the senior director of development at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, expressed a preference for the second design candidate as the inscription “United States of America” was on the sweet spot of the baseball where a player would sign. He also commented positively on how the design showed the curvature of the stitching to accentuate the shape of the ball.
The discussion of design candidates focused primarily on the first, second, and third designs. While members recognized the importance of include the inscription “United States of America” on the sweet spot of the baseball, there was also a preference for this inscription to stand alone within the design. Chairman Gary Marks also mentioned that in the second design stacking the inscription “United States of America” made the lettering smaller. Member Stevens-Stollman also pointed out that in the second design, the inscription for the denomination was larger than “United States of America”.
As these discussions were taking place, members of the US Mint staff Steve Antonucci and Don Everhart prepared a sketched concept design 2(a) which addressed some of the points raised about the initial design. The sketch quickly gained the support of members and carried in the voting. Design 1 received four points, design 2(a) received 17 points, and design 3 received 2 points.
During the meeting, some members brought forth the possibility of issuing the half dollar from the program for circulation with an unlimited mintage. This could attract broad attention and potentially earn a significant amount of seigniorage as the public saved the coins from circulation. The authorizing legislation for the program currently provides for the half dollar to be a numismatic coin which would be sold to collectors at a premium. Any change would require an Act of Congress.