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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 07/14/2011

Congress shows its bipartisan baseball love

Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, Rep. Mike Doyle and Rep. Richard Hanna at their press conference Thursday for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act on Capitol Hill. (Roxanne Roberts/ the Washington Post)

In a House asunder, isn’t it great there’s something our duly elected representatives can agree on? We’re talking, of course, about the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act.

Congressmen Richard Hanna, Mike Doyle and Joe Barton — with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro as their wingman — came together Thursday in front of the Capitol to express their bipartisan love for America’s pastime.

But first, a disclaimer. “This is a revenue-neutral event,” began Hanna. “It will cost the people of the United States nothing, I’m happy to report.”

Another brawl averted, it was time for a patriotic group hug. “There’s no greater American sport than baseball,” said Barton. “It transcends politics, it transcends generations. It’s what America’s all about.”

Congress picks two organizations every year for the commemorative coin program; the U.S. Mint issues the gold and silver coins, which are legal tender but aren’t intended for general circulation. Competition is stiff and requires support from two-thirds of House members, so the coins inevitably honor politics-proof institutions: This year’s benefit the Medal of Honor Foundation and the Army Historical Foundation; last year it was the Boys Scouts and disabled veterans.

The Baseball Hall Of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. (Jim McIsaac/ Getty Images)
On deck, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2014. The coin will be produced in three versions: 400,000 silver coins which will sell for $50 each, 50,000 gold with a retail price of about $1,600, and an inexpensive version ($10-$15) made of base metals. And it won’t cost taxpayers a dime — by law, the coins are made to order with everything covered by buyers.

“Selling baseball on the House floor was about as easy as anything I’ve ever done,” said Hanna, who introduced the bill and signed up 294 members. It was co-sponsored by Barton and Doyle, who manage the Republican and Democrat Congressional baseball teams playing Thursday night at Nationals Stadium. “This is probably one of the best things we do in Washington to promote civility and camaraderie in the Congress,” said Doyle. “We could certainly use some of that these days.”

By  |  10:00 PM ET, 07/14/2011

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