US 3358997 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Dec. 19, 1967 F. D. BELZ 3,358,997
MECHANICALLY BATTED TOY BASEBALL GAME Filed April 22, 1965 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 5 INVENTOR.
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dffwfigy Dec. 19, 1967 F. D. BELZ MECHANICALLY BATTED TOY BASEBALL GAME I5 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed April 22, 1965 Dec. 19, 1967 F. 0.5511
MECHANICALLY BATTED TOY BASEBALL GAME 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed April 22, 1965 a MM KW United States Patent 3,358,997 MECHANICALLY BATTED TOY BASEBALL GAME Franklin D. Belz, 2102 Ave. E., Brownwood, Tex. 76801 Filed Apr. 22, 1965, Ser. No. 450,106 6 Claims. (Cl. 27389) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLQSURE Following is disclosed a toy baseball game having a rotatable bat extending above the playing field. A ball delivery means, which in its simplest form constitutes a chute disposed at an oblique angle relative to the playing field, delivers the ball at a controlled velocity toward a protrusion positioned transversely to the direction of ball travel. The protrusion configuration urges the ball upward toward the plane of rotation of the bat, and includes ends such that if the strike zone is not hit the ball will be deflected, enabling the players to know clearly whether a strike or ball has been thrown. Two concentric segments of a circle are placed in matching grooves in the playing field and receive a plurality of ball catchers which occupy the same relative positions as the players in the full sized game of baseball. The segments are moved by a handle which has a pivot point at the pitchers mound region of the baseball field, which is approximately twenty percent of the distance between home plate and the centerfield wall. This enables movement of the ball catchers in a circular path which conforms approximately to the path the fielders would utilize in a full sized game of baseball.
Previously, toy baseball games have been developed but such games have a number of disadvantages.
One disadvantage of such previously developed games is that the competitive spirit stimulation found in fullsize baseball is largely untouched. A successful toy baseball game should match the skills of the offensive and defensive players to a degree that closely resembles the competitive situation encountered in full-size baseball. Improper or neglected emphasis on the psychology of play embodied in the full-size game of baseball is a deficiency that characterizes previously developed toy baseball games. For example, giving the defensive player nothing to do other than move the ball toward a batter mechanism neglects one significant element of baseball play that adds immeasurably to the enjoyment and excitement of the game. That is, the requirement for fielding the ball is an important element of the game. Toy baseball games that neglect this element have a serious disadvantage.
In some previously developed baseball games the ball is urged along the surface of a game board toward a batter mechanism. Such games have the disadvantage that the ball does not travel through the air. This feature detracts from the enjoyment of the game since hitting a ball which never leaves the surface of the game board fails to resemble the situation encountered in the full-size game of baseball.
Other types of previously developed toy baseball games utilize ball propulsion means whereby the ball travels in a trajectory through the air from the vicinity of the pitchers mound toward the batter mechanism. While such toy games have basic similarities to the full-size game of baseball, it is too difficult to strike the ball With the batter mechanism. In the limited space of a game board, the ball velocity should be confined within an upper limit such that the skill required to strike the ball need not be exceptional. The velocity required to keep a ball in a trajectory similar to that of an actual baseball is too fast for the normal, small game board.
It is the general object of my invention to provide improved toy ball games of the type having game boards that resemble baseball fields.
Another object of my invention is to provide improved toy baseball games in which the skills of an offensive and a defensive player are competitively matched in a manner similar to actual baseball.
Another object of my invention is to provide toy baseball games wherein a ball is urged through the air in a manner making the ball sufiiciently easy to hit after the development of a reasonable degree of skill.
Another object of my invention is to provide in toy baseball games improved means for urging a ball toward a better mechanism.
Another object of my invention is to provide toy baseball games in which the defensive players actively participate in the game beyond the requirement of merely moving a ball toward a batter mechanism.
These and other objects are effected by my invention as will be apparent from the following description taken in accordance with the accompanying drawings, forming a part of this application, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view that shows a toy baseball game constructed in accordance with the principles of my invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the toy baseball game of FIG. 1, as seen looking along the lines II-II of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary sectional view of a movable ball catcher as seen looking along lines III-III of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of the batter mechanism which is partially visible in FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a modified form of my invention wherein alternate means for moving the ball catchers are provided;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view as seen looking along the lines VIVI of FIG. 5;
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate respectively plan' and sec,- tional views of alternate means for moving, a ball transversely across a game board;
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary sectional view which shows a protrusion that is successfully used to move a rolling ball up from the surface of the game board;
FIGS. 9-A and 9B show respectively a plan schematic view and a side elevational schematicview of portions of the batter mechanism and game board of FIG. 1, and will be used to explain my system and apparatus for moving the ball into play;
FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing a toy baseball game having an alternate form of movable ball catchers;
FIG. 11 is a sectional view of alternate means for moving a ball transversely across a game board; and
FIG. 12 is an enlarged view of a modified form of protrusion that is used to urge a ball into the air.
Referring initially to FIG. 1, the numeral 11 designates in general a game board having a playing surface 13 with an outer periphery in the form of a baseball field. Playing surface 13 is preferably made of a thin material such as sheet metal or wood 15, as may be seen in FIG. 2. In this particular instance vertically aligned side boards 17 are used to support playing surface 13 in an elevated position. A retaining wall 19 is secured to the game board 11 around its periphery. Thus, the game board clearly resembles ,a baseball field and is usually painted or further decorated to continue this theme.
At the center field position of the game board is a center field wall 21 which has a groove 23 to receive a preferably removable chute 25. This chute has a longitudinally formed groove 27 extending along the upper surface thereof. The outer (i.e., away from the playing field) extremity 29 of the chute is preferably enlarged to facilitate the reception of a ball 31.
The forward end 33 of the chute slidably rests on the playing surface 13 of the game board so that the angular orientation of the chute may be altered. The defensive player may change the angular orientation of chute 25 and place the ball 31 thereon. Then the ball is released and urged down the chute by the force of gravity toward a batter mechanism 35.
The batter mechanism 35 has means associated therewith for selectively rotating a bat 37 about a vertical axis defined by upright column 39. As is evident in FIG. 4, upright column 39 preferably has means for altering the elevation for the bat 37. The means illustrated in FIG. 4 is a cylindrical bat carriage 41 that is retained on column 39 by interference fit or other suitable means so that it may be moved axially thereon. Column 39 extends downwardly through an aperture in playing surface 13 and also through a matching aperture in a ball return tray 43. Upper and lower bearing shoulders 45, 47 are spaced above and below ball return tray 43 on column 39 so that the vertical position of the batter mechanism 35 is established. Bearing shoulders 45, 47 may be integrally formed on column 39 or may be retained by interference fit thereon for ease of assembly and disassembly. A tension spring 49 is secured by an eye screw 51 to lower bearing shoulder 47 and also by another eye screw 53 to one of the side boards 17, as shown in FIG. 4. The placement of the tension spring in this instance is such that column 39 and bat 37 are urged thereby in a counterclockwise direction as seen from above.
An arm 55 extends from lower bearing shoulder 47 and has attached to its outer extremity a wire lever 57. One end of this lever extends through an aperture 59 in one of theside boards 17 and is formed in the shape of a finger-ring 61. When the finger-ring 61 is grasped by the offensive player and pulled outwardly with respect to the game board, column 39 is rotated against the force of tension spring 49 so that the bat 37 moves in a clockwise direction as seen from above. When finger-ring 61 is released, tension spring 49 suddenly urges the bat in a counterclockwise direction as seen from above. Thus, when the ball 31 is moved into play and toward the batter mechanism 35 by the defensive player, the offensive player may manipulate the batter mechanism and attempt to hit the ball with the bat 37.
To add to the excitement and to the degree of skill required to play the game, means are provided for urging a rolling ball 31 upward from the surface of the game board toward the horizontal level of bat 37. For this purpose, a protrusion 63 is secured to playing surface 13 at the home plate region of the baseball field. This protrusion 63 is spaced forwardly or toward the infield of the baseball field with respect to batter mechanism 35. When ball 31 strikes protrusion 63, the resulting impact urges the ball upwardly to an elevation preferably above bat 37. The offensive player, by manipulating finger-ring 61, then has an opportunity to strike the ball. When the ball reaches the peak of its upward travel, it falls downwardly and once again within reach of bat 37.
Thus, the offensive player has two opportunities to strike the ball; one during the upward travel of the ball and one during the downward travel of the ball. Reality is added to the game since the ball must be struck while in the air. Yet, the velocity of airborne ball 31 is low so that only a reasonable amount of skill is required on the part of the offensive player to strike the ball. This makes the game interesting as well as challenging for both children and adults.
The shape of protrusion 63 affects the path the ball 31 takes in the air. Although there are a number of protrusion shapes that may be utilized, I will give an example of a successful protrusion geometry: A protrusion having a length of 1 /8 inches was embedded in playing surface 13 at the home plate region of the field. The protrusion extended 4; inch above playing surface 13. The forward edge of the protrusion resided at an angle 0 with respect to vertical, as may be seen in FIG. 9. Using a steel ball of inch diameter, an angle 0 of 45 degrees was successfully used. The upper corners of protrusion 63 as seen in cross section in FIG. 11 are preferably rounded as shown.
The above described protrusion 63 performs satisfactorily when using a bat 37 of inch diameter at its enlarged end. The diameter of the bat may, however, be varied widely, depending upon the degree of difficulty desired. That is, the larger the bat diameter, the easier it is to hit the ball; conversely, the smaller the bat diameter, the harder it is to hit the ball.
As seen in FIG. 2, the protrusions should be spaced forwardly with respect to the column 39 of batter mechanism 35 since ball 31 travels in a narrow parabolic arc. A forward spacing of /2 inch was used with the above described apparatus. The characteristics of the parabolic are are determined by a number of factors including ball size, ball weight, ball velocity and, as explained above, protrusion geometry. Ball size and ball weight (which is a function of the specific gravity and which is established when a steel ball is specified) and protrusion geometry are given above insofar as a successful example is concerned. The velocity of the ball can vary over a wide range. The lower limit of the range is governed by the fact that the upward extent of ball travel after striking protrusion 63 should be sufficiently high to reach the level of bat 37. The upper velocity of the ball should be limited by considering the amount of skill required to hit the ball.
That is, if the ball velocity is too high on a small game board, the limited reaction time of an offensive player 61 can essentially eliminate the possibility that he can operate the batter mechanism 35 fast enough to strike the ball 31, except in rare instances. A satisfactory ball. velocity was achieved by using a chute of the FIG. 1 type of twenty-two inches in length and with the rearward enlarged portion 29 being raised 4% inches above playing surface 13. The forward end of the chute is preferably located at the pi-tchers mound region of the playing field, and on the board illustrated in the drawing, approxi mately 4 /2 inches separates this region and protrusion 63.
With a game board and related apparatus constructed in accordance with the example above, the ball velocity is such that the offensive player can strike the ball with batter mechanism 35 with the development of only a reasonable amount of skill.
With reference to FIGS. 9-A and 9-B, it may be seen that there is an upper limit which defines the widest parabolic are that may be used with any particular batter mechanism 35. In these figures a protrusion 63, like the one shown in FIG. 9, is located outwardly from the batter mechanism 35 and toward the pitchers mound region of the playing field. The velocity V of ball 31 may be increased and protrusion 63 moved forward until the horizontal distance D across the illustrated are at the level of the bat, as seen in the elevational view of FIG. 9-A, equals the horizontal distance F the ball sweeps across the circular arc defined by the end of the rotating bat, as seen in the plan view of FIG. 9-B. If the distance D exceeds the distance F, then ball 31 will be outside the range of the bat 37. This then defines an upper limit for the width of the parabolic arc through which the ball 31 travels.
An additional feature of my toy baseball game is that the defensive player is responsible not only for pitching the ball but also must field the ball. This is accomplished by providing a plurality of movable fielders or ball catchers 65. The ball catchers shown in FIG. 1 of the drawing are formed on circular bands 67 that are disposed within mating grooves 69 (see especially FIG. 3) formed in the playing surface 13 of the game board. These bands 67 are adapted to rotate about a vertical axis defined in this instance by a screw 71. The upper surface of these bands is flush with the playing surface 13 so that a ball will roll smoothly thereover. Each of the bands 67 isv attached by suitable means such as glueto handle means 73 that rotates about the screw 71 and that is adapted to be held by a defensive player. A plastic Washer 74 or the like is helpful in maintaining a smooth rotating action between the handle means 73 and the playing surface 13. If the ball 31 is struck by the bat 37 of batter mechanism 35, handle 73 may be moved to either the right or the left so that circular bands 67 and the attached ball catchers 65 may be moved to a position to attempt to trap the ball. Each movable ball catcher includes a deflection plate 75 which surrounds an aperture 77 in the associated circular band 67, as may be seen in FIG. 3. If the ball 31 is caught or trapped, it will fall through aperture 77 into slightly inclined ball return tray 43 (see FIG. 2), thus sending the ball to a ball dispenser 81 that is preferably near the center field position of the game board and within easy reach of the defensive player.
As an additional convenient feature of the game, a back stop 79 is provided behind the batter mechanism 35. This back stop includes an aperture 80 that extends through playing surface 13 so that a trapped ball will engage the ball return tray 43.
An alternate form of movable catchers is shown in FIGS. and 6, where the playing surface 13 includes the circular bands 67 containing movable ball catchers 65. In this instance an upper handle 83 is connected with inner circular band 85, while lower handle 87 is connected by means of bracket 89 to the outer circular band 91. Upper and lower handles 93, 95 are preferably provided respectively to upper and lower handles 83, 87 for convenience of control. Pivot means 96 connects the handles to playing surface 13'. The movable ball catchers associated with the inner circular ring 85 (these ball catchers represent the infielders), can be moved separately from the movable ball catcher associated with the outer ring 91 (these catchers represent the outfielders). This modification adds more versatility and reality to the game by providing a selection of defensive alignments of the ball catchers.
. A modified form of; ball pitching means is shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, where a chute 97 is shown as supported on center field :wall 99 and also upon two V-shaped, spring steel legs 101 that are connected to the chute at approximately its mid-section. When ball 31 is placed on the chute and allowed to roll forward, the ball weight when exerted against the inner end of the chute ultimately urges the chute down and against the playing surface 13. When the ball passed the end of the chute 97, the biasing action of the spring legs 101 urges the end of the chute upward and off the playing surface 13. This moves the end of the chute 97 out of the way of ball 31 in the event it is hit by batter mechanism 35. The spring legs 101 are preferably spaced rearwardly of the circular bands 67 so that they do not interfere with the catching of the ball.
A modified form of protrusion for urging the ball upwardly is illustrated in FIG. 12. Here, the protrusion 102 has serrations 103 which have apices and grooves that extend vertically from the board so that the ball 31 is moved outwardly or inwardly with respect to home plate region as if the batter were thrown a curve in actual baseball. With the distance across adjacent apices being /s inch and with their height above the board being A; inch, the ball may be deflected as much as /2 inch to one side or the other, depending upon where it strikes the serrations. If the ball directly hits one apex or strikes the region directly between two adjacent apices, it will be urged vertically into the air. This adds excitement to the game but at the same time does not excessively increase the degree of skill required to hit the ball with the batter mechanism.
Another form of movable catchers is illustrated in FIG. 10, where the numeral 105 designates a game board in general. A playing surface 107 has inner and outer arcuate grooves 108, 109 formed therein that guide inner and outer arcuate bands 111, 113, which are preferably formed of a ducile metal wire. Inner arcuate band 111 has a plurality of upstanding curved regulations 115 which are adapted to receive a ball and extend substantially vertically from the playing surface 107, as shown in FIG. 10. The inner arcuate band 11 has four such curved regions 115 that represent the typical baseball infield positions. The inner arcuate shaped band 111 terminates with the outermost of regions 115 so that the outermost of the curved regions 115 may be moved against the wall 117 that surrounds the playing surface 107 of the game board. The outer arcuate band 113 has upstanding curved regions 119, which represent the typical baseball outfield positions. Arcuate band 113 terminates at the otuermost of curved regions 119 so that the outermost, curved regions 119 may be moved against the wall 117. The inner and outer arcuate bands 113, 111 are secured to a support member 121 (shown in phantom), which is pivotally connected at 123 to the game board. Handle means 125 extends through a slot 127 below the center field wall 129 so that the defensive player may move the upwardly curved regions or movable fielders 115, 119 to selected positions on the game board.
This form of the invention, like the others, has a batter mechanism 131 and a protrusion 133 to urge a rolling ball upwardly from the surface of the game board. Although not illustrated in FIG. 10, pitching means are provided for moving the ball across the playing surface and toward the batter mechanism. Each upwardly curved region 115, 119 has a receptacle, which in this instance is acloth or net-like ball trap 135, that receives a rolling ball. Here, the ball does not fall beneath the playing surface of the game board but is trapped by the receptacle. Since a return tray is not required in this form of the invention, the thickness of the game board may be decreased. This enables the provision of a lightweight form of the invention, and to compensate for the reduction in weight, suction cups 137 or other suitable attachment means may be used to secure the game board in a selected position.
; Another form of pitching means is shown in FIG. 11, where the numeral 139 designates the playing surface of the game board. A centerfield wall 141 extends from the outer edge of playing field 139 and is adapted to receive a chute 143. This chute is supported upon the playing surface 139 of the game board by one or more.
arms 145, which are rigidly secured at 147 to the game board, with one end being pivotally attached to chute 143 as indicated at 14 9. A counterbalance 151 is provided on the outer end of the chute so that the normal chute position is such that its forward end 153 is elevated above the game board. When it is desired' to pitch the ball 155, the ball is released, and due to a slight downward inclination of the forward end 153 of the chute, the ball begins to roll forward. As seen in phantom in FIG. 3, when the ball 155 approaches the forward end 153 of the board, the chute is rotated in a counterclockwise direction. The ball picks up velocity and is urged toward the batter mechanism, as in the other forms of my invention. This form of pitching means, like the form of FIGS. 7 and 8, is beneficial in that it removes the end of the chute from the playing field so that there is no possibility of interference with a ball that has been hit by the batter mechanism.
In operation the defensive player places a ball 31 on the enlarged portion 29 of chute 25 of FIG. 1, on chute 97 of FIGS. 7 and 8, or on chute 143 of FIG. 11. The ball is released when desired so that it rolls downward along the chute until it engages and rolls along the playing surface 13. The slope of chute 33 may be varied by lifting the enlarged end 29 of the chute to increase the velocity of the ball. Also, the end of the chute resting on the pitchers mound region of the playing field may be moved from side to side to vary the direction of travel of the ball. Thus, ball 31 may be thrown toward the outside or inside corner ofhome plate or protrusion 63.
The offensive player grasps finger-ring 61 and pulls the attached wire lever 57 rearwardly so that bat 37 is moved in a clockwise direction as seen from above. When the ball 31 strikes protrusion 63 it is urged upwardly to the horizontal level of the bat. Theoffensive player may then release finger-ring 61 so that tension spring 49 rapidly rotates the bat in a counterclockwise direction. The game rules are preferably like full-size baseball; three strikes are allowed the offensive player, four balls provides a free base, and so forth.
If the ball 31 is struck by the bat 37 of batter mechanism 35, it will either be moved into the playing bounds of the baseball field, or it will be a foul ball. If the ball is in bounds, the defensive player by moving handle means'73 of FIGS. 1 and 2 (handle means 83 or 87 of FIGS.
and 6, or handle means 125 of FIG. attempts to catch the ball with one of the movable ball catchers 65. If the ball is caught it may be considered an out. Generally, when the defensive player makes three outs, the offensive team is retired, and the offensive and defensive players exchange places in preparation for the next half of the inning. Thus, it may be seen that the game is played in a manner much similar to full-size baseball.
It should be apparent from the foregoing that I have provided an improved toy baseball game having significant advantages. The skills of the offensive and defensive players are competitively matched in a manner similar to the full-size game of baseball. This adds significantly to the interest of the game and more nearly approaches the psychology of play found in full-size baseball.
Another advantage of my toy baseball game is that the urging of a ball into the air creates basic similarities to the full-size game of baseball. That is, the ball is hit while in the air. At the same time, the ball velocity is not so great that an exceptional amount of skill is required to hit the ball. In those games where the ball follows a trajectory similar to that found in full-size baseball, the ball velocity is so great that too much skill is required to hit the ball if a conventional looking bat is used. This is disadvantageous, particularly if the game is to be played by children. This disadvantage is eliminated by using my concept of putting the ball in play.
Moreover, I have provided improved means for urging the ball toward the batter mechanism, and one wherein the velocity of the direction of the ball may be altered in a convenient manner. In addition, :ball pitching means which move from interfering relation with a ball hit by the batter mechanism has been provided.
Another advantage of my toy baseball game is that the defensive player must field the ball in the same manner required of fielders in the actual game of baseball. This adds immensely to the game; it makes it much more competitive than would be otherwise possible.
The use of a protrusion in the home plate region of the field enables the path of the ball to be altered slightly upon contact with the protrusion, thus producing ball travel somewhat similar to the curves seen in the fullgame size of baseball.
The foregoing disclosure and the showings made in the drawings are merely illustrative of the principles of this invention and are not to be interpreted in a limiting sense.
1. In a toy ball game of the type having a game board that represents a baseball field, the combination therewith of: a batter mechanism with a portion thereof extending upwardly from the game board; means associated with said batter mechanism for selectively rotating the bat about a substantially vertical axis; an inclined chute for rolling and directing a ball toward said batter mechanism; a support member secured to said game board, said chute being pivotable under the influence of the weight of the ball and gravity until one end of the chute is urged toward the surface of the game board near the home plate region of the baseball field; and means connected with said chute for pivoting said end of the chute away from the surface of the game board after discharge of the ball to prevent interference with the ball when struck by the hat of said batter mechanism.
2. The invention defined by claim 1, wherein the means for pivoting said end of the chute away from the surface of the game board is a counterbalance weight connected with the opposite end of said chute.
3. In a toy ball game of the type having a game board that represents a baseball field, the combination therewith of: a batter mechanism having a portion extending upward from the game board to support a substantially horizontal bat spaced above the game board; means associated with the batter mechanism for selectively rotating the bat about a substantially vertical axis above said game board; ball delivery means carried by the game board to roll a ball toward the batter mechanism at a controlled velocity; and ball elevating means adapted to project a delivered ball above the home plate area, said ball elevating means comprising a protrusion defining the strike zone having a height less than one half the diameter of the ball, said protrusion extending transversely to the direction of ball travel from the ball delivery means forward of said batter mechanism, with a transverse length approximating proportionately the width of a conventional home plate and having abrupt terminating edges defining its ends to deflect the ball to one side to clearly indicate when the strike zone is missed.
4. The toy ball game defined by claim 3 which further comprises spaced apart ball catchers disposed in a seg comprises two concentric such bands and grooves, with said bands being pivotally secured to the game board with a common pivot at approximately the center of a baseball diamond area.
6. A toy ball game comprising: a game board representing a baseball field and having segments of two concentric circular grooves formed in the playing surface thereof, the common center of said circular grooves lying in said game board at the approximate center of a baseball diamond area, said grooves terminating in openings in perpendic' ular edges and end walls of said game board; a batter mechanism with a portion thereof extending upward from and supported by the game board; segmented circular bands of material disposed within said grooves, said bands adapted to extend through said openings upon movement within said grooves, each band having essentially the same width and depth as its associated groove; a plurality of ball traps secured to each of said bands; and handle means engaging each said circular band and adapted to move said band within said groove and being pivotally attached to said game boa-rd beneath the playing surface with 121 pivot point at said common center.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1 0 1,586,315 5/1926 Luckenbill 273--89 2,850,283 9/1958 Lemelson 273-90 3,111,318 11/1963 Northrup 273--90 FOREIGN PATENTS 32,105 1885 Germany.
LOUIS G. MANCENE, Primary Examiner.
S. NATTER, Assistant Examiner.