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Publication numberUS3512260 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMay 19, 1970
Filing dateFeb 28, 1967
Priority dateFeb 28, 1967
Publication numberUS 3512260 A, US 3512260A, US-A-3512260, US3512260 A, US3512260A
InventorsRidgway Richard L, Tomlinson John R
Original AssigneeTomlinson John R, Ridgway Richard L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mechanical football yards and down markers
US 3512260 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

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United States Patent 3,512,260 MECHANICAL FOOTBALL YARDS AND DOWN MARKERS John R. Tomlinson, 2511 Mulder St., Lemon Grove, Calif. 92045, and Richard L. Ridgway, 4320 Calavo Drive, La Mesa, Calif. 92041 Filed Feb. 28, 1967, Ser. No. 619,234 Int. Cl. G01c /00 US. Cl. 33-46 3 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Markers to indicate on a football field the distance to a first down, the number of the down, and the location of the football. The markers are secured to mounting means adjacent the sideline of the field, and power means are connected to the mounting means which, when activated, will shiftably move the markers parallel with the sideline. 1

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to devices for indicating the first down yardage, the down, and the location of a football with reference to the sideline of a football field.

Conventionally, the physical location of a football on a playing field is indicated by a down marker pole aligned transversely on one sideline of the field. Each time the football is moved a lineman moves the down marker pole to indicate the new position, and adjusts the down number. During play, the down marker pole is held upright by a lineman to indicate the position of the football when the play began. .j

The yardage required to be made for a first down is indicated on the playing field by a pair of yardage marker poles connected by a chain ten yards long. A lineman holds each of these poles spaced longitudinally the full length of the tightly stretched chain aligned parallel along the sideline of the playing field. The rear pole is aligned laterally with the football when the series of plays begins, so that the forward pole indicates the distance required for a first down. When a first down is made, the rear pole is moved forward along the sideline, again aligned laterally with the football, and the forward pole is moved ahead until the connecting chain is stretched tight.

If the down marker pole, when aligned with the football, is moved past the forward yard marker pole, a first down has been made. In practical usage, on close plays the alignment of the poles is too inaccurate to be satisfactory. Thus, the game is temporarily stopped -so that the lineman can take the yards marker poles onto the playing field and physically measure the distance to a first down. Such stoppage is time-consuming, interferes with the flow of the game, and involves a cumbersome manual operation which desirably should be eliminated.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Therefore, this invention mechanizes the football yards and down markers to eliminate the necessity for manual movement by linemen.

Further, this invention provides football yards and down markers on a sideline with accurate means for lateral alignment with a football on the playing field.

This invention also provides mechanized football yards and down markers which are movable by remote control along a sideline of a football field.

Football yards and down markers in accordance with this invention are movably mounted in a trench extending along the sideline and beyond the end zone of the playing field. Each of the markers is a pole which has a transit for accurate lateral alignment with a football on the playing field. A remotely controlled switch actu- 3,512,260 Patented May 19, 1970 BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a schematic top plan view showing one side of a football field having a yards and down marker system in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 2 is a schematic top plan view of an embodiment of a control mechanism for the yards markers and down marker.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a push button switch box to electrically operate a control mechanism as in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a longitudinally sectioned, partly elevational view of the relative location of the down marker and yards markers.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged, partly elevational sectional view of the down and yards markers and their operational mounting taken through 5-5 in FIG. 4.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Briefly, mechanically independently actuated down marker 10 and yards markers 12 and 14 are mounted for movement parallel to the sideline 15 of a football field 16 within a shallow, elongated trench 18 which normally extends slightly beyond each of the end zones 20 and 22. The movements of the down marker 10 and yards markers 12 and 14 are controlled by a pair of power operated, pulley mounted cables 24 and 26, respectively, which lie side by side in trench 18 and extend for its entire length.

The trench 18, as best viewed in FIG. 5, is recessed in the ground parallel to and about six inches from the sideline 15 of the playing field 16. This trench 18 is preferably constructed of reinforced concrete, and formed with a flat, slightly laterally tilted bottom floor 28, and a pair of spaced, vertical side walls 30 and 32 rising therefrom to the surface of the surrounding turf-covered ground 34. To facilitate drainage from the trench, a series of spaced, drain pipes 36 extend from a drainage system (not shown) laterally through the bottom of side wall 32 to receive fluid flowing from the adjacent lower side of the floor 28 in the bottom of trench 18.

Raised above the upper surface of floor 28 and extending laterally from side wall 30 the length of trench 18 is a flat, horizontal support plate 38. The cables 24 and 26 are each part of power operated pulley systems whereby two parallel portions of each cable rest side by side in curved, spaced guide recesses 46a, 40b, 40c and 40d, cut longitudinally parallel to each other in the top surface of support plate 38. The down marker 10 and the yard markers 12 and 14 are, respectively, secured to the adjacent portions of cables 24 and 26 by U-shaped clamps 42 and bolts 44, so that they are carried along with these cables when the cables are moved. The yard markers 12 and 14 are spaced precisely ten yards apart on cable 26, the distance required for a first down in a football game.

The trench 18 is covered to provide an upper guide means for the down and yards markers and to prevent possible injury to persons who might step into an open trench. Thus, secured to the top of side wall 30 of trench 18, along its entire length, is a T-shaped plate 46, which has a horizontal top surface flush with the turf of the adjacent ground 34. In turn, secured to the outer edge of this plate 46, and extending horizontally over trench 18 immediately above support plate 38, is a guide bracket 48. This guide bracket 48 extends the entire length of the trench and is provided wtih longitudinally extending slots 48a and 48b, perpendicularly disposed above recesses 40b and 400, respectively. The slots 48a and 48b are slightly wider than the width of the markers 10, 12 and 14, so that they Will provide a smooth guide means for the markers which protrude through these slots when they are carried along by movements of cables 24 and 26. The upper surface of the outer edge 48c of bracket 48 is slightly recessed so as to provide a support for the other portion of the structure covering trench 18, which is to be described hereinafter.

On the opposite side of the trench 18 from plate 46 and bracket 48, the covering structure is an angle plate 50 secured to the inner top edge of side wall 32 by hinges 52. This plate 50 is positioned to extend laterally across trench 18 so that its outer edge rests in recess 48c of guide bracket 48, and its upper surface is horizontal and flush with the turf on the adjacent ground 34. A number of struts 54 extend between the opposite legs of angle plate 50 to brace the structure. Since angle plate 50 is intended to be lifted for easy maintenance of the trench 18, it is preferably laterally divided into a number of easily handled sections. To provide a somewhat cushioned cover and camouflage for the trench, imitation grass, such as produced under the trade name Grasstex, is secured to the top surface of plate 46, guide bracket 48 and angle plate 50. Though other material could be used, it is contemplated that guide bracket 48 and plates 46 and 50 be made of one-half inch galvanized steel.

The markers 10, 12 and 14 are upright poles made of hard rubber, plastic, metal or wood, and are secured at their lower ends by the aforesaid clamps 42 to the cables 24 and 26. Slightly above where the marker poles project through the guide slots 48a and 4812, they each include a universal ball joint 54, which is spring tensioned to normally maintain the poles upright. However, when pressed by the weight of a person, they bend at these joints 54, thereby avoiding injury to players or other persons who may run into them.

In order to properly laterally align the marker poles with a football 56, or lines on the playing field 16, each pole is provided with rugged, but accurate, optical transit 58, preferably located in the upper portion of the marker poles and adjusted for precise direct alignment laterally across the field 16. To identify the yards markers 12 and 14, the upper ends are formed as round enlarged portions of the poles. The top end of the downs marker 10, in turn, has four plates 60 numbered from one to four, and pivotally mounted on a ring 62 so that they may be selectively swung into view to indicate the correct down. Though shown using single, manually operated, down indicator plates, various electronic or mechanical indicators could be installed in place of the down plates 60 on marker 10. Also, lights could be installed on the marker poles so they could be more readily visible at night.

Cables 24 and 26 are moved as part of a pulley system, best viewed in the illustrative schematic view of H6. 2. Thus, a horizontal shaft 64, having four separately rotatable segments, extends laterally across one end of trench 18. Reels 66, 68, 70 and 72 are carried on these separately rotatable segments of shaft 64 and are engaged for rotation therewith. One endof cable 24 is wound around adn secured to reel 66 and the opposite end is wound around and secured to reel 68. The intermediate portion of cable 24 is looped around an axially vertical rotatable pulley 74, mounted at the opposite end of trench 18 from the reels 66 and 68. In a like manner, one end of cable 26 is secured to and wound around reel 70, the other end secured to and wound around reel 72, and the intermediate portion of cable 26 looped around an axially vertical rotatable pulley 76, mounted at the opposite end of trench 18 from reels 70 and 72.

Since down marker is attached to cable 24, it will move longitudinally relative to field 1-6, as the cable 24 is wound and unwound from reels 66 and 68. Likewise,

yards markers 12 and 14, since attached to cable 26, will move longitudinally relative to field 16 as the cable 26 is wound and unwound from reels 70 and 72. Motive power to rotate selected portions of shaft 64 and the reel engaged thereto is provided by power unit for reels 66 and 68, and power unit 82 for reels 70 and 72. A remotely operated control box 84 is connected to each of the power units 80 and 82 by a cable 86, or other suitable electronic means. It has separate push button switches 90, 92, 94 and 96, which selectively cause engagement and rotation of reels 66, 68, 70 and 72. This, in turn, causes movement of the marker which is attached to the cable that is moved. To indicate which marker is being moved, and in what direction it is being moved, the push buttons and 92 are designated D, F and R for downs marker, forward and reverse, and push buttons 94 and 96 are designated Y, F and R, for yards marker, forward and reverse.

In operation, the remote control switch box 84 permits a single game ofiicial, such as the Head Linesman, to control the movement of the markers 10, 12 and 14. Thus, to assure accuracy of measurement, the omcial in charge of this control verifies the correct positioning of the markers by an optical check through the transit 58 on the particular marker being aligned. When the marker 10 is aligned laterally with a football 56 on the playing field 16, and passes the forward yards marker 14, a first down has been made, which can be quickly verified even in close measurements, without the necessity, as previously required, for stopping the game or physically carrying a pair of yards markers and connecting chain onto the playing field. Thus, a good deal of playing time is saved, and the number of linemen required to handle the measurement is substantially reduced. To allow the maximum flexibility of movement for the marker control ofiicial, the connecting line 86 will extend the full length of the field, or operate by a radio signaling means.

What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus adapted to be used in conjunction with a game of football played upon a football field comprising a down marker, a pair of yards markers fixedly spaced from each other in longitudinal relation to the length of said football field, first means exterior of said football field for mounting said down marker for longitudinal movement parallel with the sideline of said football field, second means exterior of said football field for mounting said pair of yards markers for longitudinal movement parallel with said sideline, said first and second means being adjacent each other and adjacent said sideline of said football field, power means for shifting said down marker, and power means for shifting said yards marker, whereby said longitudinal parallel movement of said down marker and said yards marker adjacent said sideline is independently controllable, wherein the down marker and the pair of yards markers are upright universally pivotable poles, and wherein the lower portions of the poles comprising the down marker and the yards markers are recessed in a trench spaced from and parallel to a sideline of the playing field and extending the length of said playing field, and said trench is provided with longitudinal guide means to facilitate movement of each of said poles within said trench.

2. Mechanical football yards and down markers adapted to be used with a football field comprising a shallow, elongated trench adjacent to and spaced parallel with the sideline of said field and extending beyond both ends thereof, a yards marker guide track extending longitudinally "within said trench, a down marker guide track extending longitudinally within said trench, a pair of yards marker poles movably mounted in said yards markers guide track and fixedly spaced from each other in longitudinal relation to the length of said foot-ball field, a down marker pole movably mounted in said down marker guide track, transit aligning means mounted in each of said down marker and yards marker poles disposed. to laterally align these poles perpendicular with reference to the sideline of said playing field and selected locations on said playing field, control mean-s for regulating the longitudinal movement of said yards markers poles, and control means for regulating the longitudinal movement of said down marker pole.

3. The combination as defined in claim 2, wherein a separate pulley mounted movable cable extends longitudinally within said down and yards marker guide tracks, the yards marker poles are attached to the cable in said yards marker guide track, and the down marker pole is attached to the cable within said down marker guide track, power operated reel means adapted to Wind and unwind each of said cables, and a remotely controlled switch to selectively actuate said power operated reel means to wind and unwind each of said cables and move the marker poles attached thereto.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,990,809 2/1935 Wright 116-120 2,060,165 11/1936 Borleske 33-46.07 2,139,300 12/1938 Cassell et al. 3346.07 2,539,560 1/1951 Wilson 3346.07

HARRY N. HAROIAN, Primary Examiner

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1990809 *Nov 11, 1933Feb 12, 1935Eugene F WrightGame
US2060165 *May 1, 1934Nov 10, 1936Borleske Stanley EvansLinesman's indicator for football games
US2139300 *Apr 19, 1938Dec 6, 1938Cassell Leonard EYardage measuring device for football games
US2539560 *Jan 30, 1948Jan 30, 1951Wilson Jeff EFootball position indicator
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7559164Jul 25, 2006Jul 14, 2009Royce RiehlmanFootball down marker
Classifications
U.S. Classification33/289
International ClassificationA63B71/06
Cooperative ClassificationA63B71/06
European ClassificationA63B71/06