US 3308802 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
arch 14, 1967 E. APPLEGATE POWER DRIVEN BASEBALL PITCHING MACHINE WITH BATTER SIGNALLING MEANS 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed April 20, 1964 a aleg Far/ Q March 14, 1967 E. APPLEGATE 3,308,802
POWER DRIVEN BASEBALL PITCHING MACHINE WITH BATTER SIGNALLING MEANS United States Patent 3,308,802 POWER DRIVEN BASEBALL PITCHENG MACHINE WITH BATTER SIGNALLING MEANS Earl Applegate, 750 Harvard Terrace, Frankfort, Ind. 60423 Filed Apr. 20, 1964, Ser. No. 366,932 3 Claims. (Cl. 124-1) The present invention relates to improvements in a baseball pitching machine, and the following disclosure thereof is offered for public dissemination upon the grant of a patent therefor.
The present invention is intended to provide a sturdy, reliable baseball pitching machine that can be manufactured and sold in a moderate price range. The parts employed are mostly relatively standard mechanical components which not only is an aid in the manufacture of embodiments of the invention, but also facilitates repairs should that be necessary. At the option of the operator the preferred form of machine will throw a straight ball, a curve in one direction or a curve in the opposite direction. Control over these functions may be maintained from a remote point by a coach who may or may not inform the batter beforehand which type of pitch will be thrown.
Further objects and advantages will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevation of an embodiment of the invention;
FIGURE 2 is a plan view;
FIGURE 3 is an enlarged partial section as viewed at line 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIGURE 4 is an enlarged partial section as viewed at line 44 of FIG. 1;
FIGURE 5 is an enlarged elevational view of the ball feeding mechanism; and
FIGURE 6 is a schematic wiring diagram.
Although the following disclosure offered for public dissemination is detailed to ensure adequacy and aid understanding, this is not intended to prejudice that purpose of a patent which is to cover each new inventive concept therein no matter how others may later disguise it by variations in form or additions or further improvements. The claims at the end hereof are intended as the chief aid toward this purpose; as it is these that meet the requirement of pointing out the parts, improvements, or combinations in which the inventive concepts are found.
Throwing apparatus The illustrated embodiment includes a frame generally 10. Two pulleys 11 and 12 carry an upper V-belt 13. A lower V-belt 14 is mounted on two pulleys 15 and 16 which train it for movement about a lower path. Pulley 11 is secured to a shaft 17 journaled in bearings 18 on frame 10. A shaft 19 journaled in bearings 20 rotatably supports pulley 15. Pulleys 12 and 16 are secured to shafts 21 and 22 respectively with theshafts being journaled in bearings 23 and 24 respectively. Bearings 23 and 24 are slidably mounted on bolts 25 with the bearings being urged away from frame by means of springs 26 therebetween. Springs 26 thus maintain a given tension on belts 13 and 14.
Shafts 19 and 21 have pulleys 30 and 31 respectively secured thereto. A drive belt 32 engages pulleys 30 and 31 as well as an idler pulley 33 and a drive pulley 34. This belt may be of double-V form (V-shaped inside and outside). Pulley 34 is secured to shaft 35 of electric motor 36. The arrangement is such that the adjacent runs 13a and 14a of the two throwing belts move in the direction indicated by the arrows in FIG. 1 so that a ball 37 received between the belts at an entrance point 38 will be discharged from between the belts at a discharge point 39.
To obtain satisfactory performance, since balls are not exactly uniform, it is important that balls 37 are carried by belts 13 and 14 in a way to provide resiliency, i.e. that they not come into contact with the edges of the respective pulleys on which the belts ride. Furthermore, the distance between the adjacent faces of runs 13a and 14a of the belts should be such that the belts are slightly compressed where they contact a ball 37 as the ball moves between the pulleys. This is achieved by the positioning of the pulleys and by employing size B V-belts on size A pulleys. That is, the belts are one size larger than that with which the pulleys are intended to be employed. The result of this is best seen with reference to FIG. 4. With size A pulleys used with size A belts, the belts would be well seated into the grooves in the pulleys. However, it will be noted in FIG. 4 how the larger size B belts project well outside of the pulley grooves. This achieves the required resiliency at those points at which the ball moves directly between the two adjacent pulleys. One of those points is the discharge area of the throwing apparatus, a somewhat critical point in obtaining the desired operation.
Ball guides Extending along the path of movement of the ball between the entrance and discharge points are a pair of side guides 41 and 42. At about entrance point 48 the guides are flared outwardly as seen at 41a and 42a respectively. As best seen in FIG. 4, the guides are spaced apart a distance slightly greater than the diameter of the baseball 37. Uniform throwing requires that the excess be very slight, not over about /8 inch. Hence, the balls should not vary in diameter by more than about Ms inch.
The mounting of guides 41 and 42 is best seen in FIG. 3. A bolt 43 is rotatably mounted on a bracket 44 and is held in place by a spring clip or C-washer 45 received in a groove in bolt 43. The projecting end of bolt 43 is threaded into a support 46 secured to the respective guide 41 or 42.. By rotating bolt 43 and varying the extent to which the threads thereof are received in the tapped opening in support 46, the support and the respective guide are moved toward or away, as the case may be, from bracket 44.
Carving apparatus The curving mechanism is best illustrated by referring to FIG. 3. It will be seen that guide supports 46 have a rearwardly projecting bifurcated finger 49. At one side there is a curving arm 50 pivotally mounted by means of pin 51 on bifurcated finger 49, At the other side is a curving arm 52 pivotally mounted on pin 53. Either one of these curving arms may be moved into the path of the ball at the side of the ball to give the ball a spin which will make it curve as it approaches the batter. The arms should be curved and initially nearly tangent to the path of the approaching ball, so as to have prolonged contact with the ball. Arms 50 and 52 have tough resilient pads 54 and 55 covering the adjacent faces thereof. These pads are formed of rubber, but could be felt, etc. A spring 56 connects arm 50 with bracket 44 and resiliently urges arm 50 towards bracket 44. Similarly, a spring 57 connects the opposite bracket 44 with arm 52 and resiliently urges the arm 52 towards its respective bracket 44. A solenoid 58 is secured to bracket 44. It has an armature 58a connected by a link 59 to mally assumes the idle position illustrated in dotted lines, while arm 52 normally assumes the idle position illustrated in full lines in FIG. 3. When the respective solenoid 58 or 61 is energized, the respective armature is extended thus pivoting the respective arm inwardly from its rest position. The arms stay in that position, except as described below, so long as the respective solenoid is energized. Upon deenergizing of the solenoid, the arm and armature are retracted by its spring 56 to its normal position.
The curving apparatus should be concealed from the batters view so that he cannot detect which pitch to expect. In fact, the entire apparatus would be within a housing, not shown.
In order to spin the ball properly for a curve without deflecting it so far from the straight ball trajectory that the same directional setting of the thrower for both types of pitches would not be sufficiently accurate, certain considerations must be observed. The lateral pressure of the spin pad on the ball must be barely enough to maintain frictional contact, but this frictional contact must be maintained for a substantial distance. In other words, there must be a contact such as will overcome the balls spin inertia without greatly altering its trajectory. The slight curvature of the spin pads as shown helps in this regard. It is possible that a curvature could be so carefully designed, approximately as illustrated, that the spin pad could be rigidly positioned during the pitch, although this position should probably be adjustable. Of course, the resilient facing would yield to some extent in any event. It is believed to be desirable, however, to have the spin pad readily yieldable to the lateral force resulting from the momentum of the ball, but at the same time substantially unyieldable with respect to the forward component of the thrust of the ball on the pad. These two considerations are achieved by using a solenoid 58 having a strength only sufficient for reliably overcoming spring 56 (which may be adjustable) and shifting the spin pad, and pivoting the spin pad at the axis 51 close to the path of the ball substantially spaced from the point of the initial engagement of the ball with the pad. In the illustrated form the ball does not engage the pad until it reaches approximate alignment with link 59, where the point of initial contact is only about inward about axis 51 from a line parallel to the balls path. The drag resulting from the spin inertia of the ball will then have -very little tendency toward moving the spin pad aside,
but the pad will nevertheless move aside readily so as to apply only that deflecting pressure on the ball necessary to maintain a spin-producing contact.
Ball feeding apparatus The ball feeding apparatus comprises a pair of spaced inclined rails 64 which support the balls 37 accurately centered in alignment with belts 13 and 14. The feeding stop comprises a Y-shaped member having stop fingers 65 and 66 and a base finger 67, all being secured to a rocker shaft 68. Rocker shaft 68 is pivotally mounted on brackets 69 of frame 10. Base finger 67 is connected by a link 70 to armature 71a of solenoid 71. This solenoid is preferably of a type that includes a spring (not shown) normally urging armature 71a to an extended position. When the solenoid 71 is energized, the armature thereof is retracted.
Stop fingers 65 and 67 may be above or below the balls and are so proportioned and positioned that when the solenoid 71 is energized, stop finger 65 projects upwardly between rail 64 into the path of one of the baseballs 37 as seen in full lines in FIG. 5, finger 66- being withdrawn to let a ball roll down against finger 6 5. When solenoid 71 is deenergized, the armature thereof rotates rocker shaft 68 in a counterclockwise direction to move stop finger 65 out of the path of the first ball on the rails while at the same time stop finger 66 moves up to be in the path of movement of the second ball on the rail. Thus, the first ball is released to roll by gravity down the rails and into the entrance point 38 between the V-belts 13 and 14. Upon again energizing of the solenoid 71, the armature thereof retracts rotating rocker shaft 68 in a clockwise direction. The ball that had been held back by stop finger 66 now moves down to be caught by stop finger 65.
Preferably there is provided a signal light or other signal 72 (FIG. 6) to indicate to the batter when to get set. When the coach presses the button, or when. the ball is about to be pitched by automatic timing, the situation is analagous to the pitcher beginning his final wind-up.
Operation FIG. 6 illustrates the wiring for the solenoids. Wires 74 and 75 connect to a suitable source of electric power to operate the various solenoids. A switch 76 is connected in series with solenoid 71 between wires 74 and 75. A three-Way switch 77 has a neutral position, an active con-tact 77a connected to solenoid 58, and a second active contact 77b connected to solenoid 61. Thus, switch 77 alternatively may be positioned: (l) to not energize either of solenoids 58 or 61; (2) to energize only solenoid 58; or (3) to energize only solenoid 61. Motor 36 is energized continuously, when the machines main switch 15 on.
Each time that switch 76 is opened solenoid 71 is deenergized to release a ball 37 to enter the throwing apparatus and to be discharged from the machine. If switch 77 is then in the neutral position, both of the curving arms will be out of the path of the ball as it leaves the machine so that the trajectory of the ball will be relatively straight. If switch 77 is moved onto contact 77a, then solenoid 58 is energized to move curving arm 50 to the position illustrated in FIG. 3. In this position the outer portion of pad 54 is in the path of movement of ball 37. If thereafter, the operator would open switch 76 to release a ball, that ball, upon leaving the discharge point 39, will contact pad 54 and roll along the pad. This imparts a rotary motion to the ball as illustrated by arrow 80. This rotary motion in turn causes the ball to move in a curved trajectory after leaving the pitching machine.
The ball would curve in the opposite direction if curving arm 52 were moved into the path of the ball rather than curving arm 50 as illustrated in FIG. 3. This, of course, would be achieved by the positioning of switch 77 on contact 77b instead of on contact 77a. Each time that switch 76 is closed, and then reopened, a ball will be discharged from the machine. As switch 76 is closed, signal 72 will be actuated, and when the batter has had time to get set, the switch 76 is opened, as by releasing a button to pitch the ball.
Further details and modifications Many variations are possible within the spirit of the invention. The curving unit may be omitted for lowpriced little league pitching machines. It may also be improved to duplicate a wider variety of pitches. Means can be added for varying speed of throw and minutely changing the direction of throw. The latter can be coupled to the curve pads to make a correction automatically if a given curve pad is found to cause too much deflection. An automatic timer can actuate the ball feed circuit several times in sequence (perhaps in response to deposit of a coin). The ball-feeder can be of any desired type. A time delay relay can be provided in conjunction with button control (or a foot actuated control, if preferred) for enabling a batter to himself initiate the operation or wind-up and then have time to get set before the ball its thrown. The use of easily flexed belts, such as those which have many notches or transverse slits on their inner sides, aids low cost production by permitting the use of a smaller motor. A gasoline engine can be provided instead of the electric motor, and
in that event the solenoids and signal may be operated by a battery or a generator driven by the engine. Belt tightening springs can, of course, be omitted if other belt tightening facilities are provided. Of course, many additional changes will occur to others particularly as in the light of more experience.
1. A ball pitching machine comprising: a frame; a pair of V-belts supported on pulleys rotatably mounted on the frame, one pair of said pulley being mounted for rotation about horizontal axes above a second pair of pulleys also mounted for rotation about horizontal axes, said pairs of pulleys being spaced apart a distance such that with a ball between the belts mounted thereon there will be a slight compression of the belts; power means connected to said pulleys to move the adjacent parts of said belts in a common direction from an entering end to a discharge end; means to feed balls one at a time to said entering end and including a solenoid operated ball release; fixed guide means mounted on the frame to center the ball laterally with respect to said adjacent parts; said solenoid operated ball release releasing the ball upon deenergization of the solenoid; and signaling means operatively connected to the ball release and energized upon energization of the ball release solenoid for signaling the batter to get set.
2. A ball pitching machine comprising: power-driven means for pitching balls fed thereto and solenoid operated ball release means for feeding balls one at a time to said power-driven means; said solenoid operated ball release releasing the ball upon deenergization of the solenoid; and signaling means operatively connected to the ball release energized upon energization of the ball release solenoid for signaling the batter to get set.
3. A baseball pitching machine comprising: a frame;
a pair of V-belts each supported solely on a pair of pulleys rotatably mounted on the frame, one pair of said pulleys being mounted for rotation about horizontal axes above a second pair of pulleys also mounted for rotation about horizontal axes, said pairs of pulleys being spaced apart a distance greater than the diameter of a baseball and said belts being of a thickness such that with a baseball passing between the belts at the pulleys there will be a slight compression of the belts; power means connected to said pulleys to move the adjacent runs of said belts in a common direction from an entering end to a discharge end; means to feed baseballs one at a time to said entering end, means to signal a batter shortly before release in connection with the operation of the feed means; and fixed guide means mounted on the frame to center the ball laterally with respect to said adjacent runs.
References Cited by the Examiner UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,112,611 3/1938 Snippen 27326 X 2,671,549 3/1954 Lubetkin. 2,918,915 12/1959 Doeg 124-1 3,017,184 1/1962 Gruss 273-43 3,102,526 9/1963 Connor 12421 3,132,754 5/1964 Smoker et al 198128 X 3,133,733 5/1964 Elseroad 273-1022 X FOREIGN PATENTS 196,758 3/1958 Austria. 1,135,124 12/1956 France.
843,527 7/ 1952 Germany.
RICHARD C. PINKHAM, Primary Examiner. W. R. BROWNE, Assistant Examiner.