Baseball Hall of Fame Reverse Design Candidates & Obverse Design Contest

In 2014, the United States Mint will issue commemorative coins to recognize and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The subject of commemoration and other certain aspects of the coin designs have the potential to bring mainstream interest to the program.

The authorizing legislation provides for the minting and issuance of up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, up to 400,000 silver dollars, and up to 750,000 clad half dollars. It is the sense of the Congress that to the extent possible the $5 gold coins and silver dollars should be minted so that the reverse of the coin is convex to more closely resemble a baseball, while the obverse design would be concave to provide a dramatic display of the design.

Further requirements are for a common reverse design to be used for all three coins which shall depict a baseball similar to those used by Major League Baseball. The obverse design is to be selected by public competition and should be emblematic of the game of baseball.

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recently reviewed six different design candidates prepared by the United States Mint for the reverse of the coin. Full coverage of the review and comments can be found here. The six original design candidates are shown below. (Note that six design candidate images were presented for each denomination, but the only difference was the inscription of the denomination. For simplicity, only the candidates for the $5 gold coin are shown.)

HOF-Press-G-01w HOF-Press-G-02 HOF-Press-G-03 HOF-Press-G-04 HOF-Press-G-05 HOF-Press-G-06

Within discussions, design 2 was favored since the inscription “United States of America” appeared on the sweet spot of the baseball and the orientation of the stitching was viewed as accentuating the shape of the ball. While acknowledging the positive aspects of the design, the Chairman and other members of the committee brought forth some issues. By stacking the words “United States of America” made the lettering smaller and left the denomination as the largest inscription.

After hearing these comments, members of the United States Mint staff who were present at the meeting sketched an alternate design identified as 2(a) which gained the support and recommendation of the CCAC. It appears that at a later point, design 2(b) was also prepared. These additional designs were provided to the Commission of Fine Arts for their subsequent review and comment. The two additional designs are shown below.

HOF-Press-S-02a HOF-Press-S-02b

Just yesterday, the United States Mint announced details and rules of the public competition to select the obverse design. The competition will officially launch of April 11, 2013 and will be open to US citizens and permanent residents aged 14 and older. A separate Kid’s design challenge is open to those 13 and younger. The selected winning design will be used as the obverse for the $5 gold coin, silver dollar, and half dollar. The designer will receive $5,000 and have his or her initials will appear on the coin.

By putting together the baseball theme, the first ever curved coin produced by the United States Mint, and a public design competition, the program should bring some significant interest to the program. Hopefully the enthusiasm will carry over to other modern commemorative coin programs and coin collecting in general.

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  1. TMMSR0127 says

    I think anything relating to baseball will always be highly collectable. In my opinion, these coins will be a hit! Possibly even a home run! I will definitely be purchasing one of each of the denominations. It seems as though the Mint is really thinkling out of the batter’s box on this design.

  2. Kraw says

    I actually like the regular 2 best. 2>2b>2a

    Is it the law that the ‘united states of america’ has to be huge? I think the design on (2) makes it look like a real baseball, which is the point…

  3. hi ho silver says

    Yea, They are all baseballs with the required wording.Too bad they couldn’t make that wording look like an autograph on a baseball.

  4. Pool Shark says


    Is the reason you like the original (2) over (2b) is because it says “Five Dollars” instead of “One Dollar”? 😉

  5. Don says

    Will the grading companies use “first strike”, “second strike” and “third strike” designations on their labels?

  6. Eddie says

    Why can’t they make the half dollar 90% silver instead of clad. I have never understood why they make a clad commemorative anyway.

  7. hi ho silver says

    Eddie if you can figure out why they took silver out of circulating coins, your on the right track. OT I’m gonna get Eddie Munsters autograph in Hershey Pa tomorrow .

  8. hi ho silver says

    Maybe that’s where they are going with this offering VA Bob?? OT: I like my 2012 shark bite coin better. To each their own.

  9. Ray says

    I understand why they have a clad commemorative. i dont understand why the silver commemorative isnt .9999, and i’ll never understand why they make the american gold eages in 22karat and the commemoratives in 90% gold. We do have the technology and resources. Seems like they did this for reasons of nostalgia. Pretty lame imo. While I appreciate the past, it is the past, and we’re supposed to be wiser because of it.

  10. VA Bob says

    Hi Ho maybe. I’ll hold finial judgment until an actual example is available. Maybe the flat image isn’t doing it justice.

    Ray – 24kt gold is much too soft (not like a gold coin will be handled today as in the past). I don’t mind our 22K gold, it’s big and still contains 1 full oz of 24kt gold. Physically, it’s impossible to tell by just looking at it. now I do like the Buffalos, but that has more to do with the design than anything.

    As for silver, could also be a hold over from our circulating coinage past, but there is no rhyme or reason as to why the Mint does it today. The 9/11 medals were pure silver, as were the 2003 wildlife medals. None of this stuff is designed to circulate anyway. Again, not enough to change appearance in appreciableway.

  11. hi ho silver says

    Very true VA Bob, The pics of the 1st RP in 2006 did no justice to the coin itself, I used my imagination and was telling everyone to jump in. I even wanted to go halfsees with anyone on the gold offering.I accualy offered to only keep the RP.

  12. fosnock says

    @Ray – You like 99.9% pure items. I can understand the gold as the color changes but what difference does it make for silver? The 99.99% is a mark of purity for bullion, that has transferred to coinage. Would I prefer that the mint use 1 ounce of silver for their coins rather than using 0.77 of course but with the mint’s markups does it really matter?

  13. Dustyroads says

    According to what I just read in another article the bill has had to be amended, it appears the convex strike makes the coin slightly undersized. I say double the planchets and add a high relief. I’m guessing the coin will just be a little smaller.

  14. Don says

    hi ho silver,
    Don’t take too many third strikes because you’ll get sent down to the minors.

  15. Jim_D says

    I have to put my two cents in and say I like the USA of 2b and the E Pluribus of 2a. Put those two parts together and they have a winner, call it 2c….

  16. says


    I think the reason for a clad half dollar is that it makes a decent, cheap gift item or is for collectors who don’t have a lot of money. If you think about it, collecting clad commemorative half dollars is probably pretty easy even for someone with limited financial resources (unless you’re getting into trying to find graded 70s of everything).

    VA Bob,

    The computerized images probably aren’t doing them justice. Take a look at Tim’s link to Michael’s post of other convex coins. I was a big fan of the Southern Sky coin pictured there, and I think a baseball coin done in the same style could prove to be really neat looking. Of course, I also like baseball and am biased in favor of the coin as well.

  17. Two Cents says


    The first commemorative of the modern series (beginning in 1982) was the George Washington half-dollar, and it was made of 90% silver. (It was a nod toward the classic silver commemorative halves of 1892-1954.) The 1982 Washington half was the first commemorative half in almost 30 years and the first 90% silver coin in almost 20 years, so as you can imagine, it was wildly popular with coin collectors.

    With that success, Congress decided that the next commemorative half would be a fundraiser for the Statue of Liberty’s 100th Anniversary in 1986. At that time, the decision was made to also mint a commemorative silver dollar and gold half-eagle, the main purpose being to help pay for the iconic statue’s repair and reconstruction.

    It was felt at the time that the half-dollar should be distributed as widely as possible and available to everyone at a modest cost. The clad copper-nickel half was marketed as a cheap way for the average joe to participate in the fundraiser, as compared to the relatively expensive silver and gold commems. I believe the sales price at the time was $5 (or even less in bulk). It was affordable for parents, schools, and private organizations to buy the coins for the children, and even kids themselves could buy it.

    Since then, commemorative halves were minted in clad to follow the precedent set by the Statue of Liberty half.

    The only exception was the 1993 Bill of Rights/James Madison silver commem half. However, that coin left a bad taste in some collectors’ mouths, as the silver half was seen as a money-grab by the James Madison Foundation, which received a surcharge from each coin — there was already one expensive silver coin for collectors to buy, and now there were two expensive silver coins. In addition, the JM Foundation had bought over 9,600 of the halves and had the reeded edges ground off and inscribed with its name along with a serial number, and sold the coins at exorbitant prices as special and unique pieces for collectors. Howls went up from numismatists, who said that these coins were now mutilated and illegal, and were made to gouge collectors and others who didn’t know better.

    Congress took note of the bad press that the 1993 silver halves received, and probably that is one of the reasons why no more silver commemorative halves were ever made.

  18. Hidalgo says

    Sorry to change the subject…. Tomorrow, the US Mint will start selling bags and rolls of America the Beautiful quarters — Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.

    Is the US Mint still limiting the quantities of America the Beautiful circulation quality S mint mark quarters?

    Also, I keep wondering what will be the impact of having the S rolls as stand-alones and included in the PDS rolls set of three. Seems to me that, unlike last year, there will be less demand for the stand-alone S mint rolls.

    Just a thought.

  19. Dustyroads says

    Hidalgo, I didn’t like the Mint changing the way they packaged the P D S rolls either, but my thinking is that they may be able to sell more that way, which is not what I want to see. I’m trying to remember anything that pertains to this years production figures for the S ATB’s, but the only thing that stands out in my mind is what I read originally for the S ATB which was a general 1.4 million. We were lucky last year to have production stop there, maybe the Mint will give us another gift this year.

  20. VA Bob says

    It will be interesting to see if it the same level of convex as the southern cross coin. Regardless since this strike will be new to the US Mint, I believe a lot of collectors will be picking it up, even people that are not baseball fans. That said, I don’t believe it will be great for the flippers, as every coin minted will probably find a home. Now if demand exceeds mintage, that’s another story, but the numbers seem high as they stand now.

  21. Two Cents says

    Interestingly enough, the US Mint had minted a Congressional Gold Medal for Roberto Clement back in 1973. The actual gold medal and the bronze reproductions sold to the public were slightly CONVEX on both sides. The obverse showed Roberto’s face etched in profile with a baseball taking up the entire background. The reverse showed a bunch of baseballs smashing through the medal.

    Here is the link to the Mint’s website:

  22. Robertson says

    Thanks for the link, Two Cents. I like the concept and everything about the design except Clemente’s profile – seems a bit cartoonish and child-like.

  23. Two Cents says

    Robertson, I agree. Clemente’s profile looks like it was scratched on the coin like a hastily-done Hobo Nickel, not engraved on a die. But the reverse design is “smashing.”

  24. Alan says

    I expect third-party dealers will find great success in reselling these to overseas markets in Asia.

  25. Two Cents says


    I would expect these coins to be extremely popular, and wouldn’t be surprised if they sell out. There isn’t anything more American than baseball, and so many people play and watch the game. Add in the kids who play and the parents who cheer them on, and you’ve got a huge base of buyers.

    As you say, the coins might very well find a robust market overseas too, especially in Japan, where baseball is the most popular team sport. Cuba has an extremely large following, as well as the rest of Latin America (notably Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic). And of course, there is Canada, which is part of Major League Baseball (MLB). To a lesser extent, Taiwan, South Korea and China have loyal followings too.

    If the US Mint partners with Little League and MLB, and gets the word out to the general public through advertising in the mainstream media and at ballparks and sports stores, there will be a sell-out, with the relatively inexpensive half-dollar coin leading the way.

    I just wish that there were different designs for the obverse and reverse of each denomination. Using the same obv. and rev., seems a bit redundant, and wouldn’t encourage people to buy all three when one will do … or two, if you want to see the coin “flat” or “pop out.”

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