US 3252453 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
y 1966 P. s. GIOVAGNOLI 3,252,453
BASEBALL PITCHING MACHINE Filed Dec. 26, 1962 5 Sheets-Sheet l INVENTOR. Pau/ S. Vovagno/i y 1966 P. sv GIOVAGNOLI 3,252,453
BASEBALL PITCHING MACHINE Filed Dec. 26, 1962 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTOR. Paul 6. 6/0 uagno/i ATTORNE United States Patent 3,252,453 BASEBALL PITCHKNG MACHINE Paul S. Giovagnoli, 4200 Birmingham Road, Kansas City, Mo. Filed Dec. 26, 1962, Ser. No. 247,159 2 Claims. (Cl. 124--7) This invention relates to baseball pitching machines of a type adapted to automatically successively project the balls along a substantially uniform path of travel.
Although machines of this general description have been known for some time and have been uniformly well received, especially for use as amusement devices and for improving the skill of baseball batters, certain inherent limiting difiiculties have been encountered with heretofore available machines. Among these difficulties have been the inability to quickly and easily preset the machine to project the balls at any of a variety of velocities and the lack of means for rapidly adjusting the height of pitch to accommodate the various batters who might use the machine. A further limiting feature of machines of the prior art has been the necessity for use of either especially made C-springs or heavy duty automotive springs. Either of these types of springs was costly, subject to a high breakage rate when utilized to impart the amount of kinetic energy required in pitching machines, and not capable of accurate preadjustment to impart a predetermined velocity.
Accordingly, it is the primary object of this invention to provide a baseball pitching machine which may be quickly and easily preadjusted to project the baseballs at any given velocity so that the pitching machine can be made to more nearly duplicate the pitches of a human baseball pitcher.
Another important object of the instant invention is to provide a machine which may be quickly and easily adjusted to vary the height of trajectory of the balls so that the machine can accommodate the strike zones of various sized hitters and may be utilized for improving the skill of certain hitters who may have batting weaknesses for pitches of particular heights.
Still a further very important object of this invention is to provide a machine which utilizes ordinary commercially available and, therefore, relatively inexpensive springs without sacrificing any of the accelerative ability of the machine pitching arm so that a wide range of velocities is available to the user of the machine.
Yet another object of the invention is the provision of a baseball pitching machine which utilizes a plurality of readily removable springs for storing kinetic energy so that the quantity of kinetic energy available during any pitching operation may be accurately controlled through the simple expedient of either adding to or removing springs from the machine.
Still a further object of the invention is to provide a machine having novel means for adjusting the tension of the springs so that relatively minor alterations in pitching velocities may be rapidly effected with a minimum of operator skill being required.
Other objects of the invention will become obvious or will be explained in greater detail as the following specification progresses.
. In the drawings:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevational view of a baseball ice pitching machine embodying the preferred concepts of the present invention:
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the opposite side of the machine from the side shown in FIG. 1, certain parts thereof being broken away to reveal details of the components therebehind and one support plate being removed to reveal details of the construction;
FIG. 3 is a front elevational view of the baseball pitching machine;
FIG. 4 is a plan view of the machine; and
FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 55 of FIG. 2.
The baseball pitching machine 10 embodying the principles of this invention, includes a generally upright frame 12, throwing structure 14 rotatably carried on frame 12, force mechanism 16 connected to structure 14 for acceleratively driving the latter through a portion of its normal path of travel, prime mover means 18, ball delivery means 20 for delivering balls to the throwing structure 14, and hopper means 22 carried by frame 12 for retaining a supply of balls to be pitched by machine 10.
Frame 12 includes a normally horizontally disposed, tubular member 24 terminating at opposed ends in L- shaped frame plates 26 and 28 which are adapted to be disposed on the ground as best seen in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3. A normally horizontally disposed, elongated, tubular member 30 is welded to member 24 and extends rearwardly therefrom, terminating in a frame plate 32 which, together with plates 26 and 28, provide the ground-engaging supports for machine 10. Frame 12 also includes an upright, tubular member 34 welded to member 30 proximal the rearmost end thereof. A normally horizontally disposed, tubular crossbeam 36 is secured to the uppermost end of member 34, and a generally horizontally disposed fore and aft extending angle iron 38 is also secured to the upper end of member 34 and is interconnected proximal the upper end of a forward, tubular upright member 40 which is welded to member 24 preferably equidistant from the ends thereof. A normally horizontally disposed, tubular member 42 is welded at the uppermost end of upright member 40 and rotatably receives therein an elongated shaft 44 which protrudes beyond either end of member 42.
A relatively large sprocket wheel 46 is rotatably carried on shaft 44 and proximal one end of member 42 as best seen in FIG. 4. A connector broadly designated 48, includes a first flange rigid to shaft 44 lying in a plane perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of shaft 44 and proximal the outer hub of sprocket wheel 46. A second flange 54 parallel to flange 52 and spaced axially along shaft 44 therefrom, is also secured to sleeve proximal the outermost margin thereof and includes an elongated lug 56 which is bent inwardly into a position where ing 56 may be engaged by an outwardly protruding pin 58 carried on the outer surface of sprocket wheel 46, as best seen in FIGS. 1 and 4.
A generally elongated, tubular arm 60 rigidly coupled to first flange 52 for rotation with the latter is further braced by a strap 62 which is secured to the outermost second flange 54 of connector 48 and extends to a point approximately midway between the ends of arm 60 where strap 62 terminates in a clamp 64 disposed in circumscribing relationship around arm 60 and secured by a fastener 66. The outermost end of arm 60 carries a ball-throwing hand 68 which includes a generally arcuate channel 70 and a brace 72.
Force mechanism 16 includes a ring 74 rotatably telescoped over member 24 between upright member and plate 26. A generally flat crank 76 is rigidly secured to ring 74 and extends radially outwardly therefrom, which a lever 78 also extends outwardly from ring 74 but disposed at an angle from crank 76, as best seen in FIG. 2. An elongated, tubular rod 80 is pivotally coupled proximal the outermost end of lever 78 and terminates at its uppermost end in an internally threaded nut 82 secured to rod 80 and rotatably receiving an externally threaded rod 84 which extends through a bracket 86 carried by horizontal crossbeam 36. Rod 84 terminates in an Operating handle 88 adapted to permit rotation of rod 84 for shifting rod 80 to in turn rotate ring 74 on member 24.
A crank 90 rigidly secured to the end of shaft 44 which protrudes from tubular member 42 opposite sprocket Wheel 46, is provided with a pulley Wheel 92 proximal the outermost end thereof and spaced radially from shaft 44. A second pulley 94 carried by a bracket 96 extending upwardly from a transversely arcuate, generally elongated, rigid carrier 98, is coupled with wheel 92 by a flexible band 100 which may be a braided wire rope, cable or the like. A second elongated, transversely arcuate, rigid carrier 102 spaced vertically beneath carrier 98 and having the concave surface thereof facing upwardly toward the downwardly facing concave surface of carrier 98, is secured to crank 76 by a depending, generally flat bracket 104. A plurality of elongated torsion springs 106, having opposed ends thereof secured to the respective carriers 98 and 102, interconnect the latter and are releasably secured to carriers 98 and 102 as by books 108 integral with springs 106 and disposed through holes 110 conveniently positioned longitudinally along the carriers 98 and 102.
It will be noted from FIG. 3 that a row of holes 110 extends through both of the flanges of carriers 98 and 102 to accommodate a pair of parallel rows of springs 106. An elongated, tubular member 112 is welded to one end of the upper carrier 98 and terminates in an internally threaded nut 114 secured to the end of member 112 and rotatably receiving therein an elongated, externally threaded rod 116. Both member 112 and rod 116 are pivotally coupled to upright member 34 by a bracket 118 bolted to member 34. Bracket 118 is secured to an elongated channel member 120, and the tubular member 112 is received between the outwardly extending flanges 122 and 124 of member as best shown in FIGS. 2 and 5.
A plurality of straps 126 welded to flanges 122 and 124 of channel 120, slidably maintain member 112 in position between flanges 122 and 124. Clamping means broadly designated 128, includes an outwardly extending, generally cylindrical, tubular, internally threaded projection 130 carried by a strap 126 which rotatably receives an externally threaded stern 132 which may be tightened upon member 112 to prevent longitudinal shifting of member 112 with respect to channel member 120. A handwheel 134 is provided to facilitate the tight clamping of stem 132 against member 112. An operating lever 136 is secured to the outermost end of rod 116 to facilitate rotation of the latter. A hearing 138 secured to the outermost end of channel 120 insures the alignment of rod 116 with member 112. i
The prime mover means 18 includes a pulley wheel 140 rotatable on a stub shaft 142 which is carried by upright member 40. A small sprocket wheel 144 also rotatable on stub shaft 142 and rigidly secured to pulley wheel 140, is in alignment with sprocket wheel 46 and receive an endless chain 146 which in turn is disposed around wheel 46.
Another pulley wheel 148 disposed below and of somewhat smaller diameter than wheel 140, is rotatably carried by a stub shaft 150 extending outwardly from a bracket 152 which is welded to and protrudes rearwardly from upright member 40. A small pulley 154 rotates 4 with wheel 148 on shaft 150 and drives a V-belt 156 which in turn extends around wheel 140 for driving the latter. An electric motor 158 mounted on tubular member 30, drives a V-belt 160 which in turn drives wheel 148 and pulley 154.
The ball-delivering means includes a flat plate 162 carried by horizontal angle iron 38 and disposed generally horizontally. An outer margin 164 of plate 162 terminates in a downwardly extending lip 166 which is disposed proximal hand 68 as the latter is rotated during a portion of its normally circular path of travel by arm 60. A forwardly extending rod 168, secured to the outermost end of crossbeam 36, is threaded at its outer end and mounts a wheel 170 which is held in vertical disposition by a pair of nuts 172 on rod 168. Wheel 70 is provided with a slot 174 to permit the adjustment of wheel 170 so that the latter is in the most advantageous position to stop a ball which is deposited on plate 162 adjacent the outermost margin 164 thereof.
The ball hopper means of machine 10 includes an essentially oval, open top side wall 176 carried by frame 12 and may be secured by welding or the like to crossbeam 36. A diagonally extending brace 178 is also welded to the inner surface of side wall 176 and to angle iron 38. The bottom for hopper means 22 comprises a ball track including a pair of elongated wire guide rods 180 and 182 having ends thereof welded to a cross rod 184 which is carried by side wall 176.
Rods 180 and 182 are bent into curvilinear configuration as best shown in FIG. 4 to provide a path around the periphery of side wall 176 and to deposit the ball on plate 162. In this respect, it is to be noted that the rods 180 and 182 are bent to decline gradually so that the ends thereof remote from the ends secured to rod 184, are disposed at a substantially lower elevation than is rod 184. A guide rod 186 also secured to rod 184 and disposed slightly above rods 180 and 182, extends generally alongside and slightly above rods 180 and 182 and is adapted to provide a guide to keep the balls rolling along the track provided by rods 180 and 182. Guide rod 186 extends further than rods 1'80 and 182 and terminates in substantial alignment with an L-shaped bracket 188 on plate 162 which, together with a curved rod 190 welded to side wall 176, provides a chute for delivering the balls to the outer margin 164 of plate 162. It will be readily understood that the balls are held securely between bracket 188 and rod 190 and will rest against wheel 170 until the ball is picked up by hand 68 when the latter is rotated past plate 162. It will be noted that arcuate channel 70 of hand 68 is conveniently provided with a notch 192 to permit hand 68 to clear bracket 188. A second notch 194 in channel 70, permits hand 68 to clear wheel 170.
Operation A quantity of baseballs is deposited in hopper means 22, and the balls are conducted to the delivery station on plate 162 by the elongated rods 180 and 182. The downward inclination of rods 180 and 182 insures the gravitation of the baseballs toward plate 162 where they are held in position to be picked up by hand 68. Motor 158 is energized to cause the rotation of sprocket wheel 46 through the various belt and chain drives. As sprocket 46 rotates, it carries along pin 58 which picks up lug 56 to cause rotation of arm 60 and of shaft 44 through a portion of travel of arm 60. Arm 60 is thus rotated through its path of travel to move hand 68 past plate 162 where a baseball is picked up by channel 70. The baseball is retained in channel 70 as arm 60 continues through its circular path of travel, and crank 90 rotates with arm 60 to cause carrier 98 to be shifted upwardly by the connection of crank 90 and carrier 98 through the flexible band 100. As carrier 98 is shifted upwardly, the springs 106 are stretched to store a considerable amount of kinetic energy therein. When the rotation of arm 60 and shaft 44 has proceeded to a point where crank 90 passes beyond top center of its path of rotation, arm 60 is acceleratively swung through the remaining portion of its path of travel under the bias of springs 106 as they cause shaft 44 to rotate faster than sprocket wheel 46.
The baseball held by hand 68 is thrown by arm 60 during this accelerative portion of its path of travel along a trajectory simulating the throwing of the baseball by a human pitcher. As wheel 46 continues torotate, it again reaches a position where pin 58 comes into engagement with lug 56 to cause the arm 60 to be rotated by prime mover means 18. After another ball has been picked up by hand 68, crank 90 reaches a position where spring means 16 may again acceleratively drive shaft 44 to cause the baseball to be projected from hand 68. This operation may be continued so long as there is a supply of baseballs in hopper means 22.
The accelerative force imparted to arm 60, and therefore, the velocity at which the baseball is pitched from machine 10, is determined by the force exerted by mechanism 16 during the accelerative portion of the path of travel of arm 60. This force may be calculated by the number of springs which are connected between the respective carriers 98 and 102. If it is desired to lessen the amount of such force in order to reduce the velocity of the pitched baseball, it is but necessary to remove one or more of the springs from the carriers to achieve the desired velocity. It is preferred that the springs be either added to or removed from the carriers in pairs so that spring means 16 will be kept balanced for smooth operation of the component parts. A distinct advantage obtained by the use of a plurality of springs which may be either added to or removed from the machine, lies in the fact that each spring may be calculated to impart a certain amount of kinetic energy for use in'operating machine 10. Close control on the kinetic energy available and thus, the velocity of the pitch, may be obtained through the simple expedient of adding to or removing the springs from the machine. v
With heretofore available pitching devices wherein a single spring was utilized, (the velocity of the pitch could not be accurately adjusted inasmuch as compressing or tensioning of the spring prior to its operation would alter the modulus of elasticity of the spring so that the velocity could not be accurately predicted. For example, with an elongated compression spring the precompressing of the spring one linear inch might alter the pitching velocity a given amount from that which would be available had the spring not been precompressed. However, the precompressing of the spring an additional inch might alter the pitching velocity many times the given amount. With a plurality of springs, however, each spring adds its amount of force to the total unit. Thus, the addition of a pair of springs to the unit can be expected to increase the velocity in predetermined predictable increments. Thus, the machine may be quickly and easily adjusted to provide whatever velocity is desired of the pitched baseballs.
Means is provided with machine 10 for pre-tensioning the springs a slight amount to provide a fine adjustment to the velocity of the pitches without the necessity for removal or addition of springs to force mechanism 16. When it is desired to increase the velocity of the pitches, it is but necessary to rotate handle 88 to shift rod 80 in a direction to cause rotation of crank 76 downwardly. This pulls carrier 102 downwardly to provide the required pre-tensioning to springs 106.
It has heretofore been necessary to control the height of the trajectory of the pitched baseballs by either adjusting the frame or by altering the angle made between the channel 70 of hand 68 with the pitching arm 60. Either of these adjustments were not easily made and prevented the flexibility which was desired with baseball pitching machines.
The trajectory of the balls pitched by machine 10 may be quickly and easily adjusted however, by the expedient of rotating lever 1-36 to shift carrier 98 either forwardly or backwardly. If it is desired to lower the trajectory, the operator merely shifts carrier 98 rearwardly toward upright member 34 so that crank must rotate further in a counterclockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 2, before pulley 92 reaches the over-center position with respect to a line drawn between pulley 94 and shaft 44. Such over-center position must be reached before force mechanism 16 may acceleratively drive arm 60 through its path of travel. By the same token, the shifting of carrier 98 forwardly and away from member 34-, moves the location at which pulley 92 passes top dead-center with respect to a line drawn between pulley 94 and shaft 44 so that force mechanism 16 will start the accelerative driving of arm 60 at an earlier point in the circular path of travel of arm 60. This raises the trajectory of the pitched baseballs.
It can be seen that machine 10 is much more readily adjustable and, therefore, more desirable than baseball pitching machines which have heretofore been available.
Having thus described the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:
1. In a machine for automatically successively throwing baseballs:
a shaft pivotally mounted on the structure;
a throwing arm rigidly mounted on the shaft;
a crank rigidly secured to the shaft and extending radially therefrom, said arm and the crank being disposed for travel through parallel, circular paths about the shaft; first driving means mounted on the structure for driving the arm and the crank through a first arcuate portion of their respective paths of travel in one direction;
means on the structure for supplying a baseball to said arm during travel of the latter through said first portion of the circular path;
second driving means for acceleratively driving the arm through a second arcuate portion of said circular path of travel in said one direction, said second driving means including tension-spring means, means operably coupling one end of the spring means to the crank, the other end of the spring means being operably coupled with the structure;
means for simultaneously driving the crank through a first arcuate portion of its path and the second driving means through a kinetic energy acquiring path of travel, said simultaneous driving means being operable to release said second driving means and the crank from driving connection with the first driving means when the crank reaches an overcenter position on its path of travel with respect to an imaginary line drawn between said one end of the spring means and the shaft whereby the second driving means expends said kinetic energy and acceleratively drives the arm under substantially uniform force through the second arcuate portion of its respective path to throw the baseball;
shiftable means operably coupled with said one end of the spring means and with the support structure for shifting said one end of the spring means with respect to the shaft to any selected one of several locations relative thereto and for holding said one end in the selected position thereof whereby the point on said circular path at which the crank reaches said overcenter position may be accurately controlled; and
tension adjusting means coupled with the structure and said other end of the spring means for independently controlling the tension on the spring means whereby 7 55 the ac'celerative force imparted by the second driving References Cited by the Examiner means to the crank for rotating said shaft may be UNITED STATES PATENTS varied.
2. Apparatus as set forth in claim 1 wherein said 5/1942 Adams 12417 shiftable means includes an elongated, tubular member 5 2655908 10/1953 n 1247 operably coupled with said one end of the spring means, 2690169 9/1954 m 124 7 a rod rotatably mounted on the structure and threadably 2700379 1/1955 mlgan "7" 124 7 received in the member, means coupled with the rod for 2877757 3/1959 Glovagnoh 124 7 rotating the latter with respect to .the member for shift- FOREIGN PATENTS ing the rod longitudinally with respect to the member and 10 165,921 11/1955 Austra1ia clamp means for releasably securing the rod in any 199,130 6/1908 Germany selected one of several positions with respect to the member. RICHARD C. PINKHAM, Primary Examiner.