FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a baseball, and more particularly, to an instructional baseball which is designed to curve more dramatically when thrown than that of a conventional baseball. The instructional baseball is intended to help pitchers learn the art of throwing curveballs. Generally, according to the principle behind throwing a curveball, as the ball travels through the air in a spinning motion, the side which is spinning toward the direction of travel is traveling at a greater speed than the side which is spinning away from the direction of travel and therefore, the side which is traveling at a higher speed has more drag forces applied to it, creating a Magnus force which moves the ball in a side, curving direction. This invention is intended to increase the drag forces on the spinning baseball creating a larger Magnus force which results in improved curving action compared to conventional baseballs. With conventional baseballs, the general surface of the baseball provides some drag forces against the ball, although, much of the drag forces are created from the stitching or seam area of the ball when it is thrown with a rotating spin. Some balls are provided having raised seams to help obtain more action on the ball for both pitching and general play. Learning the art and skill of throwing a curveball is a very difficult process. Even if the pitcher uses the proper techniques it is sometimes hard to see the results, especially when first learning. The premise of this new baseball is that it will exaggerate and highlight the curve rate so that a pitcher will know whether or not that the techniques that are being used are correct. Once the pitcher believes that the techniques are proper, he can then build upon them making the learning process simpler.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,612,942 B1 describes and claims a baseball that is designed for repeated use with a pitching machine. The baseball has a smooth surface upon which a plurality of dimples or indentations are provided. The said indentations serve to induce turbulent airflow over the surface of the baseball, thereby reducing the drag on the ball and serving to stabilize the flight of the ball. The ball further includes a plurality of slot-shaped depressions formed in a pattern similar to the stitch pattern of an actual baseball.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,592,477 relates to a baseball which includes a core and two 8-shaped cover pieces which are glued to the outer surface of the core. The outer surface also has an 8-shaped seam designed to form two 8-shaped recesses into which the two 8-shaped covers are received. The seam has a number of bulges intended to simulate the stitches of a typical baseball.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,190,273 relates to a construction for a baseball or softball having a raised seam for better pitching performance where the underlying hot melt adhesive has the same durometer hardness comparable to that of the core of the ball, so that the ball will perform in the same manner whether it is hit on or off of the seam.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,984,813 relates to an instructional baseball designed for teaching the proper manner of throwing a curveball. The instructional baseball comprises a generally spherical ball having a continuous seam, in the same manner as a typical baseball. The seam pattern creates four horseshoe shaped boundary areas on the surface of the ball, also in the same manner as a typical baseball. In the center of each of each boundary is a depression, each having substantially the same volume. The purpose of said depressions is to create a greater drag force against surface of the ball to increase the rate in which the ball will curve.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
U.S. Pat. No. 4,286,783 relates to a practice baseball designed to curve in a controllable manner when thrown in the same manner in which a conventional ball is thrown as a straight ball. The practice baseball is mostly spherical except for one area which is flat. This ball is intended to help train batters in the skill of hitting curveballs. The pitching techniques used to curve this ball differ from that of pitching techniques used to curve a conventional baseball; therefore this ball does not make a practical pitch training aid.
An object of the current invention is to provide an instructional baseball designed to help pitchers learn how to throw curveballs.
Another object of the invention is to provide a baseball which, when pitched with a rotating spin, curves greater then conventional balls that have the same amount of spin.
It is another object of the invention to provide a baseball which has the same size and weight of a conventional baseball.
It is also an object of the invention to provide a baseball that has a similar shape and feel as a conventional baseball.
It is also an object of the invention to provide an instructional softball which has the same characteristics of the instructional baseball, except that is larger in size and weight.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Briefly, a baseball made in accordance with the present invention comprises a generally spherical body member formed with single recessed V-shaped groove, projected inward from the surface of the body member, and following a lined figure-8 path around the outer surface of the body member, basically in the same manner as that of the seam or stitching of a conventional baseball. In accordance with a preferred embodiment, inserted into the V-groove and following the FIG. 8 path is a series of V-shaped vent member sections having a center fin member which acts as an air deflecting fin increasing the drag forces against the ball as it is thrown through the air with a rotating spin motion, causing the ball to curve more dramatically. In a modified preferred embodiment, the fin member is formed integrally with the body member and modified fin-less vent member sections are disposed over the fin member. In another modified preferred embodiment, a plurality of fin members are formed in each of the vent member sections.
The accompanying drawings, which provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the instructional baseball made in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 2 is a slightly smaller scale perspective view of the FIG. 1 preferred embodiment shown with one of the vent member sections removed for clarity. For ease of illustration, the separate vent member sections in place on the baseball are shown as a single continuing vent member section in FIGS. 1 and 2.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 preferred embodiment, shown without the vent members.
FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the FIG. 1 preferred embodiment, shown without the vent members.
FIG. 5 is a side elevation section view of the FIG. 1 preferred embodiment, shown without the vent members, as viewed from section lines 5-5 of FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view, using generally the same scale as that of FIG. 1, of one of the vent member sections of the FIG. 1 preferred embodiment FIG. 7 is an enlarged front elevation view of the FIG. 6 vent member section.
FIG. 8 is a side elevation section view of the FIG. 6 vent member section as viewed from section 8-8 of FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a modified vent member section 50.
FIG. 10 is a front elevation view of the modified vent member section 50.
FIG. 11 is a side elevation section view of the modified vent member section 50 as seen from section line 11-11 of FIG. 10. Also show in FIG. 11 is an outline view in dashed lines of a modified base member 60 incorporating fin member 61.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another modified vent member 70.
With reference to the drawings, and in particular to FIGS. 1-10 thereof, a baseball embodying the principles and concepts of the present invention will be discussed.
FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of baseball 10 made according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The baseball comprises a core body member 20 and a plurality of V-shaped vent member sections 40 which follow a lined figure-8 path around the ball's surface, basically in the same manner as that of the stitching of a conventional baseball. Fin member 41 of vent member section 40, (see in particular FIG. 8) acts as an air deflecting shield which increases the drag forces against the ball as it is thrown through the air with a rotating spin motion, causing the ball to curve more dramatically. Cross braces 42 help support center fin member 41 and also provide an outer surface 43, filling the gap between fin member 41 and core body member 20, essentially forming a continuation of the outer peripheral surface of the body member, allowing the pitcher to hold baseball 10 with a feel similar to a conventional baseball.
FIG. 2 is similar to FIG. 1 but additionally shows one of the vent member sections 40 removed for better understanding of how vent member sections 40 mate with V-groove 24 of body member 20. During assembly, twenty four vent member sections 40 are aligned into V-groove 24 of body member 20 and glued to one another and to the side walls of the groove. It will be understood that the particular number of vent members used is a matter of choice.
FIGS. 3-5 show body member 20 without vent member sections 40. Body member 20 is composed of a single solid composite material which forms a generally spherical shape having one continuous recessed V-groove 24 that follows a figure-8 path around the otherwise spherical surface of the body member, basically in the same manner as that of the stitching of a conventional baseball. V-groove 24 comprises two side walls 25 and 26 which taper down and inward from the body member's outer surface at edges 27 and 28, respectively, and come together at inner edge 29. Body member 20 has two figure-8 shaped outer surface members 21 and 22 which are defined by edges 27 and 28 of V-groove 24. During assembly, V-groove 24 is filled with vent members 40 leaving outer surfaces 21 and 22 as the only visible areas of body member 20.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of vent member section 40 which is a component part of baseball 10. Vent member section 40 has base walls 45 and 46 forming a generally V-shape complimentary to the V-shaped side walls 25, 26 of grooves 24. The vent member section includes center wall 41 which serves as a portion of the elongated fin member extending upwardly from the juncture of base walls 45 and 46. Side walls are formed by cross braces 42 which are also provided at evenly spaced intervals along the length of the vent member. In the preferred embodiment shown and described, there are a total of twenty four vent member sections which are glued side to side to one another and to body member 20 in V-groove 24 making up the continuous figure-8 vent profile. As vent member section 40 mates with V-groove 24 of body member 20, upper edge 47 seats so that it is aligned with the outer edge 27 of base member 10. Likewise, lower edge 48 seats so that it is aligned with outer edge 28 of body member 10. With reference to FIG. 8, cross brace 42 has an outer surface 43 formed with the same radius as the outer surfaces 21 and 22 of body member 20, thereby providing a ball with a similar shape and feel to that of a conventional baseball. Base walls 45 and 46 mate with respective V-groove walls 25 and 26 of body member 20 and are glued thereto.
In use, baseball 10 is thrown by the pitcher with a rotating spinning motion. This is accomplished by rolling the pitcher's wrist upon releasing baseball 10. As baseball 10 travels through the air in a spinning manner, air is forced against fin 41 of vent member sections 40, creating greater drag forces against the ball which results in a greater Magnus force, moving the ball in a side curving motion. The pitcher holds baseball 10 in a manner similar to the manner he would hold a conventional baseball. Cross braces 42 and the outer surface 43 of vent member section 40 fill in the V-notched gap around fin member 41, allowing the pitcher's fingers to remain on the outer peripheral surface of baseball 10.
The concept of increasing the drag forces on baseball 10 could also be used in the design of a softball, enabling softball pitchers to also learn the art of throwing curveballs more effectively.
FIGS. 9-11 relate to a modification of the FIGS. 1-8 embodiment. Modified vent member sections 50 each comprises a curved plate like member formed without the fin and without the cross braces extending into the V-groove which were incorporated in vent member sections 40 of the first embodiment. Vent member sections 50 also incorporate a raised stitch pattern 53 located between rows 51, 52 of slot holes. Raised stitch pattern 53 extends out beyond an imaginary continuation of the spherical outer peripheral surface of the baseball's body member 60, that is, above outer surface 54 of vent member 50, preferably by approximately 0.03 inches and is roughly 0.3 inches wide.
A broken away portion of modified body member 60 of baseball 10′ is shown in FIG. 11 in dashed lines. Body member 60 comprises an air deflecting fin member 61 which is formed integrally with the body member, as by extruding, and which extends along the entire length of V-groove 64. Vent member section 50 is configured to cover V-groove 64 with vent member side edge walls 55 and 56 angled to mate with V-groove side walls 65 and 66 of base member 60. During assembly, eight vent members 50 are placed within V-groove 64 and glued into place forming a figure-8 type pattern. It will be appreciated that, while eight vent members are employed in the described embodiment, the particular number is a matter of choice.
FIG. 12 shows a perspective view of another modified vent member section 70 having base walls 75, 76 forming a generally V-shape complimentary to the V-shaped side walls 25, 26 of grooves 24 of vent member section 40, described above. Edges 77 and 78 correspond to edges 47, 48 of vent member section 40. However, vent member section 70 comprises a plurality of walls 71 which serve as air deflecting fin members.
It will be understood that the invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the described embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.