The North Dakota
According to the official State Quarter Commission's August 2004 press releases, the N.D. quarter should depict "sunlight, an expansive sky and a rugged butte." Their reasoning behind this choice – to dispel the idea people in other states have that N.D. is a cold, barren prairie. As quoted in a Bismarck Tribune article on Aug. 16th, the State Tourism Director says that putting the "sun and rugged terrain on the quarter will help to promote and develop a positive image” for the state. Is it just me, or don't all other states also have sunshine and sky? There's nothing unique about that idea. In addition, a "rugged butte" represents the geography of a small portion of the state -- How many rugged buttes do you see East of Bismarck?
In the same Tribune article mentioned above, the Lt. Governor said that sunlight, sky and a butte would form a common background for one of four suggested themes – agriculture, landscape, American Indians and the Badlands. But just a few lines later in the article, the commission (as well as coin experts) stated that the design should be uncluttered, with only a few features. It seems to me that if you put images of sunlight, sky, a butte, as well as something to do with agriculture, landscape, American Indians or the Badlands that the coin is getting a little crowded. This was also pointed out by Frederick Smith in his Bismarck Tribune editorial on Aug. 17th.
Another point of contention is the fact that the commission believes that the purpose for the state quarter is to encourage tourism to the state; that seems a little far-fetched to me. Who in their right mind decides on where to go for vacation by looking at a coin? Do you look at the Ohio quarter, see an astronaut and say to the family, “Hey, let’s go to Ohio and visit a NASA space center”? No, the purpose for that astronaut image is not to promote tourism; it’s to honor Ohio’s native sons Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. Families might use a state quarter to select their final destination by choosing heads or tails, but it has nothing to do with the picture on the “tails side.” Coins may be for collecting, but not for promoting tourism!
Here’s my idea, as submitted to the commission in early July: Prairie and Badlands scenery, agriculture, Lewis & Clark, Sakakawea, bison, Native Americans and Teddy Roosevelt are all important aspects of our state’s history, but most have been seen on coins before and are basically lackluster ideas. Instead of these blatantly ordinary metaphors for the state, why not honor a famous North Dakotan from the recent past who has not received the credit from his peers that he deserves?
A legend of the game, Roger Maris is synonymous with Major League Baseball's most monumental and historic single-season record by passing Babe Ruth with 61 home runs in 1961. Yet, as unbelievable as it might seem, Roger has not been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Depicting Roger on the state quarter in 2006, exactly 45 years after his astounding record season would be a unique tribute to the state's most famous athlete. It is my sincere belief that a quarter depicting Roger Maris will be more emotive (and thus more collectable) than a quarter showing the sun and a butte; and it could be argued that the “Maris Quarter” might even encourage out-of-staters to relive the memorable 1961 season and actually visit the Roger Maris Hall of Fame in Fargo.
My idea for this coin is not intended to bring tourists to North Dakota, nor to make it the most collectable coin in the world. The reason I feel strongly about this design is that it’s intended to honor an amazing man, a recipient of the North Dakota’s prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award who also happens to be a legend of our country’s national pastime.
Please contact the North Dakota Quarter Commission at the Governor’s Office to express your thoughts and ideas about what should be represented on our state quarter by sending email to the nine commission members using these email addresses: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. You may also contact the commission members directly by calling the phone numbers listed at the bottom of this page.
A copy of one sample design that could be used on the quarter (that I created and submitted to the commission in July) appears below along with a short early biography of Roger Maris. Please let others know about this website (justgriff.tripod.com) -- thank you for your consideration and help!
Roger Maris was born in Hibbing, Minnesota on September 10, 1934. His father, who worked for the Great Northern Railroad, moved the family to North Dakota in 1942, where Roger and Rudy, his older brother by one-year, grew up. The Maris brothers played sports and attended Shanley High School in Fargo, North Dakota. It was in the 10th grade when Roger met Patricia, his future wife, at a high school basketball game.
Played 12 seasons (1957-68), primarily with the New York Yankee. Broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record with 61 in 1961, a record which stood until 1998. Won the AL MVP Award in 1960 and 1961. Holds Al record for most home runs in a season (61 in 1961). Holds or shares AL records for most intentional walks in a game (4) and most homers in a doubleheader (4). In addition to his 1961 HR title, led the AL in runs, RBI and total bases that year, and, in slugging and RBI in 1960. A four-time All-Star. Won a Gold Glove in the outfield in 1960. Played in seven World Series, winning three rings.
Roger Maris died on December 14, 1985, of lymphoma cancer at the age of 51.
See also: From the Sandlots of Fargo to Baseball Immortality - By Larry Scott
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The opinion statement above was prepared by Justin M. Griffin.
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Justin at firstname.lastname@example.org.