San Luis Obispo, Calif., artist Cassie McFarland wasn’t aware until
May 11 that the U.S. Mint was soliciting designs for a common obverse
for the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coins.
Today, her design appears to be the clear favorite for the three
coins in the program — not bad for someone who almost missed the contest.
McFarland stumbled upon the U.S. Mint’s Baseball Coin Design
Competition on the contest’s last day for potential designs to be submitted.
McFarland, 27, had been browsing the Internet looking for
information on a series of Shell service station “Mr. President”
tokens depicting U.S. presidential portraits that she recalls having
collected while growing up.
A figurative oil painter, portraitist and sculptor, McFarland was
seeking the token designs as inspiration for an art project she had conceived.
The baseball commemorative coin design contest link showed up
during one of her Internet searches.
“I guess I typed in the right information [in the search engine],”
McFarland told Coin World July 22.
Now the design that she submitted in competition with 177 other
design hopefuls is just two steps away from possibly receiving final
approval, after receiving the recommendations July 18 and July 23,
respectively, of the two congressionally authorized review panels —
the Commission of Fine Arts and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
Final approval by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. “Jack” Lew or his
designee would mean a permanent place for McFarland in U.S.
commemorative coin history, her initials on the obverse of three
commemorative coin denominations, and compensation of at least $5,000.
To say that McFarland is ecstatic about the prospects would be an understatement.
“Oh my goodness, that’s crazy. What are the chances?” McFarland
said upon learning the news. “This is all very surreal for me. I’ll
have to take it one step at a time.”
Coin World interviewed McFarland on July 22, after
notifying her four days earlier via a posted message on the Batterup.challenge.gov Web
page that her design was recommended by the Commission of Fine Arts
from among the 16 finalist designs.
McFarland was interviewed a second time by Coin World on
July 23, after the CCAC concurred with the CFA’s endorsement of her
design. Coin World informed McFarland about the CCAC’s recommendation.
The recommendations of both the CFA and CCAC will be taken into
consideration by Acting U.S. Mint Director Richard Peterson before a
final recommendation is passed on to Lew or whomever Lew designates to
make the decision. On a number of previous coin and medal design
decisions, Lew has deferred to Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal S. Wolin
to make the final selection.
McFarland submitted her proposed design to Batterup.challenge.gov
on May 11, the final day of the 30-day design competition that began
McFarland said July 23 that after locating the Mint’s coin design
competition and reading the contest rules, she quickly put pencil to
paper to execute a rendering that would work well if struck in a
concave format. What better way to recognize the game of baseball than
a baseball glove?, McFarland said.
McFarland also believed her design would pair well with the
common, convex reverse depicting the type of baseball used in Major
The common, concave obverse and common, convex reverse selections
are to be announced sometime in September.
The common reverse will be picked from designs rendered by members
of the U.S. Mint’s engraving staff and its outside complement of
artists under the Artistic Infusion Program.
McFarland incorporated both two-dimensional and three-dimensional
elements to make her contrasted design challenging to the eyes.
McFarland said she initially thought of rendering a quirky,
abstract design featuring the skin of a peanut for tactility, since
in-shell peanuts are a staple at baseball parks. She abandoned that
idea when she considered people with peanut allergies.
McFarland said she did not want whatever design she finally chose
to submit to be “harsh and geometric.”
“I played softball as a kid and had a somewhat round glove,”
McFarland said. “I wanted to make the design spheric, but still appear
concave. The bumps of the laces and the wheat and concavity — I think
they provide a realistic feel of holding a glove.”
After executing three slightly different baseball glove renderings
using 8-inch by 8-inch circles as a design template, McFarland said
she opted for her last hand-drawn piece, which had, in her opinion,
the fewest mistake erasures.
“The third one was the charm,” McFarland said. “I guess I really
wanted to design this coin.”
Even if she had found out about the design competition at the
outset, McFarland said she likely still would have contributed her
submission on the final day.
McFarland earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 2008 from
California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
She said July 22 that she’s not sure specifically what direction
her artistic talents might take.
She’s sold a number of her paintings. McFarland said San Luis
Obispo is extremely supportive of its local artists, through the San
Luis Obispo Arts Council’s Art After Dark program and Open Studios Art
Tour, which introduces artists to the public.
McFarland said she currently volunteers with senior citizens
programs and is contemplating pursuing geriatric recreation
incorporating art therapy.
McFarland said on one of her future visits to her parents’ home in
northern California, she plans to look both for a coin folder of
Lincoln cents her mother gave to her as a child and for a small wooden
treasure chest containing coins she obtained with her father on a trip
to a local coin store.
And, yes, McFarland also plans to look for that set she collected
of bronze presidential tokens from Shell that inspired her Internet
search that found the coin design competition.
All of the 178 proposed designs submitted for the design
competition were scrutinized several times internally at the Mint for
coinability and other design/production criteria before being
reviewed/judged by a panel of five members of the National Baseball
Hall of Fame — Brooks Robinson, Dave Winfield, Joe Morgan, Don Sutton
and Ozzie Smith.
From the total submissions, the field was pared to 22, but one
designer subsequently withdrew his or her design.
A gaffe by one of the members of the U.S. Mint’s internal review
team who did not properly apply the contest rules meant his or her
review scores were nullified. The nullification resulted in expanding
that field of semifinalists, of which McFarland was one, to 26.
McFarland had already made the previous semifinalist cut.
The second series of semifinalist designs were returned to the
five Hall of Famer players for a second review session. Seventeen
finalist designs were picked, but one was subsequently withdrawn
because it did not meet certain required elements of the design
contest. The Mint did not disclose what unmet contest criteria
resulted in a design being withdrawn.
The CFA and CCAC conducted their subsequent review of the
remaining 16 finalist designs, of which McFarland’s was one. The 16
finalist designs were posted online for public viewing on Batterup.challenge.gov on
July 18, the same day they were reviewed by the CFA for its