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Publication numberUS2657058 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 27, 1953
Filing dateSep 4, 1951
Priority dateSep 4, 1951
Publication numberUS 2657058 A, US 2657058A, US-A-2657058, US2657058 A, US2657058A
InventorsHugh Mulcahy
Original AssigneeHugh Mulcahy
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pitcher's control target with automatic ball return
US 2657058 A
Abstract  available in
Images(6)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

CHE-:55

Oct. 27, 1953 H. MULCAHY 2,657,053 PITCHER'S CONTROL TARGET wrm AUTOMATIC BALL RETURN Filed Sept. 4. 1951 6 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR BY a W ATTORNEY Oct. 27, 1953 MULCAHY 2,657,058

PITCHER'S CONTROL TARGET WITH AUTOMATIC BALL RETURN Filed Sept. 4, 1951 6 Sheets-Sheet 3 INVENTOR aeMgx mama/ ///4 //07 Big; I

ATTORNEY Oct. 27, 1953 H. MULCAHY 2,657,058

PITCHER'S CONTROL TARGET WITH AUTOMATIC BALL RETURN Fil ed Sept. 4, 1951 e Sheets-Sheet 4 U U q 02b M ii i INVENT'OR ATTORNEY Oct. 27, 1953 H. MULCAHY 2,657,058

PITCHER'S CONTROL TARGET WITH AUTOMATIC BALL RETURN Filed Sept. 4, 1951 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 mmmnmmmmli f4;

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Oct. 27, 1953 MULCAHY 2,657,058

PITCHER'S CONTROL TARGET WITH AUTOMATIC BALL RETURN Filed Sept. 4, 1951 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 INVENTOR batting practice.

Patented Oct. 27, 1953 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE PITCHERS CONTROL TARGET WITH AUTOMATIC BALL RETURN The present invention relates to a pitchers control target with automatic ball return and it consists in the combinations, constructions and arrangements of parts herein described and claimed.

It is a well known fact that pitchers on baseball teams greatly outnumber catchers. Hence, many pitchers do not receive the practice they should have and catchers are usually very busy prior to a game in the catching of batting practice, hitting and warming up pitchers for Usually there are several pitchers who need practice but who have to wait until a catcher is available and, even then, do not receive the full time they need. The present invention is such that it is available at all times and its use can easily be regulated by the manager or coach who may assign its use for given lengths of time to certain pitchers. In certain ball parks where space is available, the machine may be set up in the bullpen, thus freeing a catcher who then may be available on the bench in case he is needed as a pinch hitter or replacement. The use of the present device will thus not only make an extra man available on the bench during a ball game but would help to speed up the game itself. The device consists, generally, of a target at which the practicing pitcher may throw a ball and which target is provided with openings at the corners, that is to say at the batters weakness points in each corner of that portion of the area above home plate where a strike may be thrown. In any event, balls which are thrown at the target and whether or not they pass through the weakness points will eventually come to rest upon an especially tilted platform which will deliver the thrown balls eventually to a trough where a gateway will hold the same against further movement by gravity. The gateway descends under certain circumstances to allow the ball to pass to a throwing arm which, through certain electrical means hereinafter to be described, will eject the ball violentl back toward the pitcher. A switch, operated by the weight of the ball, acts to start the operation of the ball return mechanism which, in turn, sets off the operation of a motor which operates certain switches in consecutive order to first move forwardly a resetting arm, secondly starts the motor which will operate certain other switches which, in turn, operate a motor to actuate a reset arm which moves the throwing arm back to normal position and, finally a switch which will release a latching mechanism to free the throwing arm so that it may violently eject a ball which will come to rest by gravity thereon. One of the features of the invention is that while a single ball may be utilized for practice by a pitcher, if the pitcher should desire to use several balls, the same will be held in check by the gateway above referred to and will automatically take their turn in set ting up the series of actions which will eventually act to return the same automatically to the pitcher.

It is accordingly an object of the invention to provide an apparatus of the character set forth which is comparatively simple in construction, relatively inexpensive to manufacture and yet efiective and efiicient in use.

Another object of the invention is to provide an apparatus of the character set forth having a novel throwing arm forming a part of the invention.

Still another object of the invention is the provision, in an apparatus of the character set forth of a novel timing apparatus forming a part of the invention.

Still another object of the invention is the provision, in an apparatus of the character set forth, of novel switches forming a part of the invention.

Still another object of the invention i the pro- Y vision, in an apparatus of the character set forth,

of novel ball guide means forming a part of the invention.

A further object of the invention is the provision, in an apparatus of the character set forth, of a novel resetting arm forming a part of the invention.

Another and further object of the invention is the provision, in a device of the character set forth, of a novel gate forming a part of the invention.

Other and further objects of the invention will become apparent from a reading of the following specification taken in conjunction with the drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a front elevational view of a completely assembled apparatus constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention,

Figure 2 is a reduced sectional view taken along line 2--2 of Figure 1,

Figure 3 is a schematic view illustrating certain electrical circuits forming a part of the invention,

Figure 4 is a plan view of the device shown in Figures 1 and 2,

Figure 6 is an exploded transverse sectional View, partly in elevation, of a pair of switches forming a part of the invention,

Figure 7 is a fragmentary enlarged plan view illustrating a portion of a throwing arm, its release mechanism and a ball-retaining gate all forming parts of the invention,

Figure 8 is a fragmentary elevational view, partly in section, illustrating certain switches, a throwing arm and allied mechanisms forming a part of the invention,

Figure 9 is a fragmentary plan view of the devices shown in Figure 8,

Figure 10 is a reduced elevational view, partly in section, illustrating the working of a throwing arm forming a part of the invention,

Figure 11 is a fragmentary elevational view illustrating a timing motor and latch mechanism forming a part of the invention,

Figure 12 is a plan view, partly broken away, of the devices illustrated in Figure 11,

Figure 13 is a fragmentary vertical sectional view of the device as illustrated in Figure 12,

Figure 14 is a side elevational view of an actuating bar forming a part of the invention,

Figure 15 is a plan View thereof,

Figure 16 is a plan view of a switch actuating arm forming a part of the invention,

Figure 1'7 is a side elevational view of Figure 16,

Figure 18 is an enlarged top plan view of an actuating bar forming a part of the invention,

Figure 19 is an enlarged vertical sectional view, partly in elevation, of a throwing arm, ball retaining gate and allied mechanisms forming a part of the invention,

Figure 20 is an elevational view illustrating particularly a latch and release mechanism therefor, both forming parts of the invention, and

Figure 21 is a reduced perspective View of a pick-up device also forming a part of the invention.

Referring more particularly to the drawings, there is shown therein an apparatus of the character set forth wherein is provided a control target having a horizontal base portion l and a vertically extending frame H both preferably and as shown formed of tubular material.

The base it] is provided with a plurality of supporting wheels !2. Adjustably mounted upon the frame H is a platform [3 which is inclined downwardly and rearwardly, as indicated in Figure 2, and downwardly and laterally as shown in Figure 1. A short ball-retaining fence l4 extends upwardly from the sides of the platform is with the exception of the lower rear corner portion thereof which communicates with a downwardly inclined runway l mounted upon the floor I 6 of a ball-returning mechanism which is supplied with supporting rollers 11.

Extending rearwardly from the frame H is a plurality of bracket members I8 which support a vertically extending backstop 19 formed of canvas or the like which lies in a plane parallel to the plane of a screen 26 likewise preferably formed of canvas and which is supported by means of lacings 2! connected to the frame ll.

Upon the screen 23 there is marked off, as indicated at 22, a verticall extending rectangular strike zone which represents that portion above home plate where pitched balls by the pitcher are denoted strike by' the umpire when a ball passes therethrough. In each corner of the rectangular area 22 there is a cutaway portion 23 4 which defines batters weakness openings. Centrally in the rectangular area 22 there isdefined what may be termed a warmup zone 24.

A ball pickup device is illustrated in Figure 21 and consists of a frame 25 of tubular material having a forwardly and downwardly extending arm 26 at either side thereof to which arms is affixed by lacings 2'! a sheet of canvas 28 or like material. The pickup device is adapted to be positioned upon the ground immediately for-- wardly of the base It).

Adjacent the outer end of the runway l5 there is provided a transverse slot 29 in which is yer-- tically swingable a gate 39 (Fig. 19) which ispivotally connected, as indicated at 3|, upon a standard 32 which is mounted upon the floor I6. The gate 3!! is provided with a relatively short extension 33 beyond the pivotal point 3| and to the outer end of the extension there is connected a tension spring 35 which is also connected with a bracket 35 likewise affixed to the floor I6.

A throwing arm 35 is pivotally mounted in a pair of cars 31 which are disposed on opposite sides of a shock absorber housing 38 which is affixed by bolts 39 or the like to the floor H5. The rearward or free end of the throwing arm 36 is provided with a ball-supporting platform as having an upwardly extending fence 4| which extends along the outer side thereof and along the rear side thereof.

An ear 42 (Fig. 8) is affixed to the throwing arm 36 adjacent the platform but inwardly thereof by means of a bolt 43 or the like and one end of a wire 44 is bent over a bearing 45 mounted upon a shaft 46 carried by the ears 42 and the bent over portion of such wire, indicated at 41, is clamped to the main portion of the wire 44 by means of a clamp 48. The other end of the wire 44 extends over a bearing 49 carried by a shaft 50 in the rear portion of a bracket 5! and its bent over portion, indicated at 52, is clamped to the main portion of the wire 44 by a clamp 53. In the forward end of the bracket 51 there is transversely mounted a shaft 54 having a bearing 55 disposed thereon and to which bearing is affixed one end of a tension spring 55 whose other or forward end is connected to a bracket 51 which is, in turn, affixed by means of a bolt 58 or the like to an upwardly extending forward wall 59 attached at its lower end to the floor It.

A bar 68, shown in detail in Figure 18 of the drawings, extends transversely through the throwing arm 36 adjacent the platform 40 and is held thereto by means of a pair of nuts 6| (Fig. 7). The bar 6!] has revolubly mounted thereon a roller (52 against which a reset arm 63 is adapted to bear. The reset arm is connected to a shaft 64 (Figs. 3 and 4) mounted in suitable bearings 65 attached to the floor l6 and its free end extends through a reduction gear box'fiB which receives its power from a shaft 61 extending therefrom and which shaft Bl is connected by a coupling 68 with the shaft 89 of a motor 10 likewise mounted upon the floor It.

In Figures 14 and 15 there is illustrated in detail an oscillating switch actuating arm H provided with a threaded shank 12 which extends through the throwing arm 35 at a point approximately midway therein and which is fastened thereto by means of a pair of nuts l3 and". The outer end of the arm H is forked, as indicated at T5, and has revolubly mounted in said forked portion a roller 16. The arm 1| extends outwardly from the throwing arm 36 in a direction opposite to that of the bar 60.

Extending rearwardly from the forward wall 59 is a vertical panel 11 (Fig. 4) upon which is mounted a normally open contact switch "I8 and a normally closed contact switch I9 which switches are illustrated in greater detail in Figure 6.

Referring now to switch 18, it will be seen that there is provided a casing 80 within which is mounted a pair of contact members 8|. The casing 80 is provided at its outer side with an opening 82 through which projects a button 83 which is reciprocably mounted upon a shaft 84 surrounding which is a compression spring 85 one end of which bears against the rear of the casing 80 and the other end of which bears against the button 83 to normally hold the same in an outward position. The button 83 is adapted to be contacted by the roller 19 when the same is brought adjacent thereto by means of the throwing arm 39 to thus force a movable contact member 86 carried by the inner side of the button 83 into contact with the fixed contact members 8|.

Referring now to the switch 19, it will be seen that the same is provided with a casing 81 having an opening 88 in its forward wall through which projects a button 09 which is slidably mounted upon a shaft 99. Within the housing 8] there is provided a pair of fixed contact members SH and the shaft has aiiixed thereto a movable contact member 93 which is normally held against the fixed contact members 9| by a compression spring 94 surrounding the shaft 90 and bearing at one end against the inner side of the casing 87 and at its other end against the inner side of the movable contact 93. The button 89 is provided with a pair of detents 95 which are adapted to move the movable contact member 93 away from the fixed contact members 9| when the roller 'IB comes into contact with the button 89.

At 90 (Figs. 3 and 4) is indicated a normally closed contact switch which is adapted to be actuated by an arm 91 carried by the shaft 04 and which arm 9'! comes into contact with the switch 90 when the reset arm 63 is in its vertical position. The switch 96 is connected electrically to a relay reversing switch 98 which, in turn, is adapted to reverse the direction of rotation of the motor l when the same is started by the switch 78.

Mounted upon the platform I6 is a motor 99 provided with a vertically extending shaft I00. The motor 99 is preferably a small clock type gear motor with a speed of approximately 8 R. P. whereas the motor I0 is of a type having approximately one-third horsepower and operating at approximately 1800 R. P. M.

Afiixed to the upper end of the shaft I00 (Figs. 11 to 13) is a radially extending arm IOI which is forked, as indicated at I02 at its outer end and within which forked portion there is mounted upon a vertically extending shaft I03 carrying a roller I04.

Forwardly of the motor 99 there is mounted upon the floor I6 a latch casing I having an opening I96 in its forward end through which s slidably mounted a latch bolt I01. The bolt I07 1s provided interiorly of the casing I05 with an enlarged portion I03 from which projects rearwardly a pair of spaced parallel arms I09 each of which is provided with a laterally extending slot IIO adjacent the rear portion thereof. An arouate bar I I I extends through each of the slots I I 0 and has integrally formed therewith a vertically extending shaft I I2 which is pivotally mounted in openings 23, it

a bearing I I3a formed in the lower portion of the casing I05 and which extends revolubly through the upper side of the casing I05. The: shaft H2 has integrally formed at its upper end a rearwardly extending actuating arm I I 3 which terminates at its rearward end in the path of rotation of the roller I04. The rearward side of the ball holding platform is provided with a rearwardly extending lip I Ma which is normally engaged by the bolt I01.

Arranged in circumferentially spaced relation to the motor 99 where they may be contacted by the roller I0 3 are (see Fig. 3) a normally open contact switch H4, a normally open contact switch H5, a normally closed contact switch '6 and a normally closed contact switch II1. It will be seen that the switches II5 and H6 are closely adjacent to each other and that the actuating arm H3 lies between the switches I I6 and III. The floor I6 also has mounted thereon. in addition to the relay 90, relays H8, H9 and I20.

In operation, it will be apparent that the apparatus may be utilized wherever there is an area sufliciently long to place the apparatus in such position that the target is sixty feet and six inches away from the pitcher desiring to use the same. It will also be apparent that the pitcher may first utilize the warmup target 24 to limber his throwing arm and that thereafter, in order to practice the placing of the thrown ball within the target area 22 but in the corners thereof, he will then attempt to place the ball through the being understood that balls thrown in this area and in such corners are still denoted strikes by the umpire when in an actual game.

' Whether the ball strikes the target 20 or passes be thrown too low they will through the openings 23, it will still be delivered eventually to the platform I3 due to the fact that the backstop I9 will act to stop the passage of any balls which may have passed through the openings 23. In any event, balls will be delivered by gravity to the platform I3 if they strike either the member 20 or the member I9. Should balls be diverted upwardly by means of the device illustrated in Figure 21 since such low balls will strike against the canvas 28 and roll or bounce in an upward direction and eventually be delivered to the platform I3 whence they will roll by gravity to the trough I5 and be I fence M.

held against further movement gate 30 if the same is in its upward position at the time. If, however, it is in lowered position the ball will continue to travel along the trough I5 in an uninterrupted manner until it hits a switch I2! (Figs. 3, 7 and 19) and it will thereupon continue to roll into the platform 40 where it will be held against further movement by the This switch i2I will act to start the motor 99 by means of certain relays as shown in Figure 3. It will be noted that the shaft I00 of the motor 99 revolves in a counterclockwise direction as viewed in Figure 3 of the drawings and that the normal position of the HH and its roller I04 is between the switches H4 and II I. As the motor begins rotating the roller I04 will first come into contact with the switch I I4 which will set the relays in condition that when the mo tor 10 is started by the roller I04 contacting the switch H5, the reset arm 63 will be moved forwardly to allow freedom of movement for the throwing arm 30 when the latter is released. As the arm If" and its roller I04 continue in their counterclockwise path of rotation to contact the switch I I5, the motor I0 will be started and the arm 63 moved forwardly as above stated and it by means of the of which is connected contact with the arm ,be noted that the speed of the movement of -thearm 63 is reduced from that of the shaft 69 of themotor through the reduction gearing in the box 66.

Immediately after contacting the switch H5, the roller will come into contact with the switch H6 to thereby stop the motor 10. This stopping is so timed that the motor is deprived of further electrical power prior to the arm 63 reaching its full upward movement and it will be apparent that the remainder of such movement will be due to the inertia of the motion of the various apparatus associated with the motor 10. After contacting the contact member H6, the roller I94 will next come into contact with the actuating arm H3 to move the latch bolt l! inwardly of the casing 105 thus freeing the lip l 1 4a and allowing the throwing arm to be violently moved in a forward direction to thereby ej ect the ball toward the pitcher. This violent forward motion of the arm 36 is caused by the action of the tension spring 56 returning to its normal position. At the last portion of such forward movement of the arm 36 a shock absorbing spring I22 which acts between the casing 36 and a cylinder 123 which is I carried by the lower end of the arm 39, comes into play to reduce such forward movement and rotect the forward wall 59 from violent contact with the arm 36.

It will be apparent that when the roller I64 comes into contact with the actuating arm l 13 to thereby move the latch bolt 10'! inwardly of the casing I05 that the action that takes place within such casing is such that the arcuate arm Ill is also moved so that a portion thereof lying within one of the slots I I0 acts against the rear por tion of the leg I09 containing such slots to move the entire mechanism l0'll98l09 rearwardly against the action of a tension spring 129 one end to an ear I25 upon the forward side of the arcuate arm I I l and the other end of which is connected to the forward side of the casing I05. As the roller I94 passes out of H3, the latter will be returned to its normally rearwardly projecting position due to the action of the tension spring I24 acting to return the arcuate arm II I to its normal transverse position within the casing I05.

The arm I01 and its roller I04 will then continue on to contact the switch Ill which stops the motor 99 and the motor 99 will remain idle until the ball again contacts the switch I2l to start another cycle as above described.

When the throwing arm 36 is released and pulled forwardly by the action of the spring 56 to substantially a vertical position it will contact through the arm H and the roller 16, the switch 18 which will act to start the motor 10. The 1110-- tor now being reversed through the action of the switch 96 and the vertical position of the resetting arm 63, will act to rotate the arm 63 backwardly to its horizontal position. .As this occurs the arm 63 will bear against the roller 62 upon the bar 60 to move the throwing arm 36 backwardly to its horizontal position against the action of the spring 56 until the lip 1 Ma is again latched by the bolt I01. During this rearward movement of the arm 36 the roller 16 will eventually come into contact with the switch [9 which :will act to stop the motor 10 but'at a point slightly before the completed backward movement of the arm 36, it being understood that the remainder of such movement will be due to the drift of the motor 10. 7

While but one form of the invention has been shown and described herein, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that many minor modifications may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention or the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A pitchers target of the class described comprising: a target; ball collecting means connected to said target for receiving a ball therefrom; spring actuated ball throwing means disposed to receive a ball from said target received by said ball collecting means; a first electrical contact means actuable by said received ball; a first electric motor responsive to said first electrical contact means; cyclically operative electrical contact means for causing said first motor to operate through a predetermined cycle of operation; a second electric motor for re-cocking said spring actuated ball throwing means; and a second "electrical contact means responsive to said cyclically operative contact means and connected to cause rte-cocking operation of said second 'motor at least once during each cycle of operation of said cyclically operative electrical contact means.

2, A pitchers target according to claim 1, further comprising a motor reversing contact-or connected to said second motor for controlling the direction of rotation thereof for re-co'cki'n'g said ball throwing means.

3. A pitchers target according to claim 1 wherein said cyclically operative means 'comprises a plurality of contact means 'actuab le to start said second motor to draw said ball throwing means into cocked position, and further comprising mechanically actuable means responsive to said cyclically operative means for releasing said cocked ball throwing means to throw said ball.

HUGH MULCAHY.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS

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Classifications
U.S. Classification473/436, 273/395, 124/7
International ClassificationA63B69/40, A63B69/00, A63B63/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2069/0006, A63B69/408, A63B63/00
European ClassificationA63B63/00