|Publication number||US3703286 A|
|Publication date||Nov 21, 1972|
|Filing date||Jun 24, 1971|
|Priority date||Jun 24, 1971|
|Publication number||US 3703286 A, US 3703286A, US-A-3703286, US3703286 A, US3703286A|
|Inventors||Adkin William C|
|Original Assignee||Adkin William C|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (15), Classifications (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent [151 3,703,286
Adkin [451 Nov. 21, 1972  BATTING PRACTICE DEVICE  ABSTRACT Inventori willilm i Route A batting practice device having an elongated line exg TOWIIShIP, Allegan County, tending between a pair of upright pole assemblies. A
Mlch- 49010 ball is fixedly secured to one end of a short tether line,
 il June 24 7 the other end of which is slidably connected to the guide line. The guide line has a fixed stopped secured  Appl' 156336 adjacent each end thereof, which stop is spaced from the adjacent pole. A person stands near one pole as  US. Cl. ..273/26 E sembly for throwing the ball to a batter standing ad-  Int. Cl. ..A63b 69/40 jacent the other pole assembly. A one-way stop device Field of Search 95 29 A is fixedly secured to the guide line adjacent said one pole assembly and is slightly spaced from the adjacent References C e fixed stop whereby the tethered ball assembly, when UNITED STATES PATENTS batted by a batter, will freely pass over said one-way stop so as to engage the adjacent fixed stop. The one- 3,042,40l 7/1962 Deneger ..273/26 E way stop prevents rebound of the ball toward the 3,469,840 9/1969 KI'UZBI ..273/26 E pitcher but keeps the ball positioned close to the 3,630,521 Lingbeek E pitcher to permit further throwing thereofl A safety post is preferably positioned in front of the pitcher for Primary Examiner-Anton Oechsle preventing the pitcher from being struck by the ball Assistant Examiner-Theatnce Brown after same has been hit by the batten AttorneyWoodhams, Blanchard and Flynn 10 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures 42 1 ray-elm PATENTED W 1 I 2 3,703,286
SHEET 1 OF 2 INVENTOR flail, al/.1413
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Numerous batting pratice devices have previously been developed to enable a person to pratice hitting baseballs, either for enjoyment or to further develop batting skills. These prior known devices have generally involved the use of an elongated guide line extending between a pair of stationary anchor devices,
which guide line generally has stop members fixed secured adjacent the opposite anchor devices. A
tethered ball assembly is slidably guided on the guide line, whereby a pitcher standing adjacent one anchor device can the throw the ball toward a batter standing adjacent the other anchor device. The batter, upon hitting the ball, causes the tethered ball assembly to be slidably guided along the guide line ii the tethered ball assembly contacts the stop adjacent said one anchor device. While these prior known devices have performed in a satisfactory manner, nevertheless it has been discovered that these devices can causeinjury to persons using same, particularly the pitcher. For example, when the tethered ball assembly is batted, the tethered ball assembly moves rapidly toward said one anchor device until contacting the adjacent stop member. However, the substantial momentum of the tethered ball assembly causes same to violently rebound from the stop assembly, whereupon the rebounding tethered ball often strikes the pitcher. Also, the rebounding ball often moves a substantial distance back toward the batter, whereupon the pitcher thus has to first retrieve the ball and return same toward saidone anchor device in order to permit the ball to again be thrown toward the batter. 7
Further, since many batting pratice devices are designed for use with relatively young children, it has been discovered that a young child, after throwing the ball 0 the batter, does not step out of the way of the batted ball, and accordingly if often hit by the tethered ball assembly after same has been struck by the batter. This can also cause undesirable injury to the pitcher.
Still further, it has been noted that many of the known batting pratice devices do-not accurately simulate a freely thrown or freely pitched ball, and thus the batter is not truly exposed to conditions which closely approximate those which would be actually experienced in a baseball game.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved batting pratice device which overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages and, in particular, substantially increases the safety of the pitcher by preventing the pitcher from being struck by the batted ball.
A further object is to provide a batting device, as aforesaid, which specifically includes a one-way stop device mounted on the cable adjacent the pitcher, for preventing rebounding of the batted tethered ball assembly. Still a further object is to provide an improved batting pratice device, as aforesaid, which includes a removable safety pole assembly adapted to be disposed adjacent but laterally spaced from the guide line, which pole assembly is positionable directly in front of the pitcher to prevent the pitcher from being struck by the batted tethered ball as it is moving toward the extreme end of the guide line.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a batting pratice device, as aforesaid, which has spring means connected to the guide wire for adjusting the tension of the guide wire to enable the tethered ball 'assembly, where pitched, to more closely resemble a freely thrown ball.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide an improved batting pratice device, as aforesaid, wherein the spring means causes the vibrations of the guide wire, as caused by the batted ball, to be rapidly dampened to enable the device to be utilized in rapid succession.
It is also an object of the present invention to provide an improved batting pratice device, as aforesaid, which can be easily vertically adjusted to accommodate persons of different heights, such as young boys or adult men.
A further object is to provide a batting pratice device, as aforesaid, which can be constructed either as a permanent or a portable installation, which can be quickly and easily erected within a relatively small space, which is safe 0 handle and durable in operation, and which can be manufactured in an inexpensive and efficient manner.
These and other objects of the present invention will be apparent to persons acquainted with devices of this type upon reading the following specifications and inspecting the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG 1 is a side elevational view of a batting pratice device constructed according to the present invention.
FIG 2 is a fragmentary, enlarged, perspective view of a portion of the batting pratice device illustrated in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a top view of a portion of the batting practice device illustrated in FIG 1, same being taken substantially along the line III-III of FIG. 1.
FIG 4 illustrates a side elevational view of a modified post assembly for use with the batting pratice device of the present invention.
Certain terminology will be used in the following description for convenience in reference only. For example, the words upwardly, downwardly, rightwardly, and leftwardly will designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The words inwardly and outwardly will refer to directions toward and away from, respectively, the geometric center of the device and designated parts thereof. Said terminology will include the words above specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof and words of similar importance.
Further, in the following description, the thrown direction of the ball will refer to leftward movement in FIG. 1, whereas the batted" direction of the ball will refer to rightward movement in FIG. 1. These directions have benn chosen merely for convenience in illustration, and it will be recognized by those familiar with devices of this type that the relative orientation of the batting pratice device, particularly the throwing and batting directions, canobviously be oriented in any desired relative relationship.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The objects and purposes of the present invention are met by providing an elongated, substantially horizontal guide line tautly extending between a pair of laterally spaced, substantially upright post assemblies. The guide line has a stop member adjacent each end thereof, and a tethered ball assembly is slidably guided on the line between the stop members. The guide line also has a one-way stop device disposed adjacent but spaced slightly from one of the stop members to substantially prevent rebounding of the batted tethered ball assembly. The one-way stop device, in a preferred embodiment, comprises a tapered member which converges in a direction extending away from the adjacent stop member. The device also preferably includes an upright safety post adapted to be positioned in the immediate vicinity of the one-way stop device. The safety post, which extends above the guide line and is positioned a small lateral distance therefrom, is disposed directly in front of the person throwing the tethered ball for preventing said person from being struck by the ball after same has been batted.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION FIG. 1 illustrates therein a batting pratice device constructed according to the present invention. The batting pratice device 10 specifically includes a pair of spaced, upright support post assemblies 11 and 12 having an elongated guide line or cable 13 extending tautly therebetween. A tethered ball assembly 14 is connected to the line 13 for slidable movement therealong.
The support post assembly 11 specifically includes an upright support ost 16 which is adapted to have the lower end thereof fixedly supported, as by being embedded in the ground. An elongated guide rod 17 i positioned substantially parallel to and laterally spaced from the post 16, being fixedly connected thereto by a pair of adjustable connecting devices, such as turnbuckles 18.
The other post assembly 12 is substantially identical tp the post assembly 11 and also includes an upright support post 19 having the lower end thereof fixedly anchored, as by being embedded in the ground. The post 19 also has a guide rod 21 fixedly secured thereto in laterally spaced and substantially parallel relationship, as by means of intermediate adjustable connecting devices, such as turnbuckles 22.
The guide rods 17 and 21 extend substantially vertically whereby the guide line 13 extends therebetween in a substantially horizontal direction. G uide line 13 is provided with collars 23 and 24 fixedly connected .adjacent the opposite ends thereof, which collars 23 and 24 are slidably received on the guide rods 17 and 21, respectively, for permitting the vertical elevation of one or both ends of the guide line 13 to be selectively varied. The collars 23 and 24 have suitable clamping devices, such as thumbscrews 26 thereon, for permitting the collars 23 and 26 to be fixedly locked in a selected position.
The guide line 13 extends through, and slidably supports thereon, a hook or ring 27, whichr ing comprises a portion of the tethered ball assembly 14. The ring 27 is fixedly connected to one end of a short tether line 28, which tether line at is other end is fixedly secured to a conventional baseball 29. The ring 27 while constructed as a closed annulus to prevent the ball assembly from being accidentally disconnected from the line 13, may neverthless to constructed to enable the ring to be easily attached to or removed from the line 13. For this purpose, the ring 27 may be constructed as a releasable, latch-type hook having a manually movable plunger or latch portion for permitting the hook to be easily attached to or removed from the line 13. Altemately, the ring 27 any be replaced by means of an S- shaped hook for permitting the tether line 28 to be slideably attached to the guide line 13.
To limit the movement of the tethered ball assembly 14 along the line 13, the line 13 is preferably provided with stop members 31 and 32 fixedly secured thereto adjacent the opposite ends thereof. The stop members 31 and 32 are disposed a small distance from the adjacent guide rods 17 and 21 and, as illustrated in FIG. 1, can be constructed as plate-like disc members constructed from a relatively hard rubber-like material, such as rubber or plastic.The stop members 21 and32 are preferably fixedly secured to the cable 13, as by being bonded thereto, whereby the stop members will thus be properly positioned relative to their respective guide rods.
To maintain the proper tension within the guide line 13, there is provided a tension spring 33 having one end fixedly connected to the cable 13 in the region between the stop member 32 and collar 24. The other end of the spring 33 is fixedly anchored to a collar 34, which collar is slidably mounted on the guide rod 21 and is fixedly secured in a selected position by means of a thumbscrew 36, whereupon slidable movement of the collar 34 permits the tension of the spring 33 to be selectively varied,
To prevent rebounding of the tethered ball assembly 14 after same has been batted, the batting pratice device 10 is also preferably provided with a one-way stop device 37 fixedly secured to the line 13 adjacent one end thereof. The stop device 37 is secured to the line 13 between the stop members 31 and 32 and is positioned closely adjacent t but slightly laterally spaced from one of the stop members, such as being slightly laterally spaced from the stop member 31 as illustrated in FIG. 1.
The one-way stop device 37, as illustrated in FIGS 1-3, preferably comprises a tapered or conical member fixedly secured to the line 13 and converging in a direction toward the remote end of the line 13. That is, the large diameter end of the stop device 37 is positioned directly opposite the adjacent stop member 31 but is laterally spaced a small distance therefrom to define a short intermediate cable length adapted to receive therein the guide ring 27. The maximum cross sectional dimension or diameter of the one-way stop device 37 is preferably slightly smaller than the minimum internal dimension or diameter of the ring 27 to enable the ring 27 to be cammed upwardly and freely slidably pass over the one-way stop device 37 when the ring 27 is moving toward the stop member 31 (rightwardly in FIG. 1). The stop members 31 and 32, however, have a transverse dimension greater than the opening defined within said ring 27 for preventing the ring 27 from moving beyond the respective stop members.
The batting pratice device is also preferably provided with a safety device 39 disposed adjacent the post assembly 11 and selectively positionable on either lateral side of the guide line 13 for protecting the person who pitches or throws the tethered ball 29. The safety device 39 includes an upright vertical post 41 positioned substantially parallel to and laterally spaced from the adjacent guide rod 17, the post 41 extending upwardly to a vertical height substantially equal to the upper end of the guide rod 17. The post 41 has a plurality, such as three, of flexible guide cables 42 fixedly secured adjacent the lower portion thereof, which guide cables extend outwardly from the post in a substantially equiangular relationship and are provided at their outer free ends withsuitable anchors or stakes 43 adapted to be driven into the ground in a conventional manner. The lower end of the post 41 is itself provided with a pointed configuration to enable the post 41 to be easily driven into the ground. A positioning cable 44 of predertermined length is fixedly connected between the upper ends of the post 41 and the guide rod 17 for causing the safety device 39 to be properly spaced relative to the guide rod 17.
The post 41, as illustrated in FIG. 3, is preferably positioned so that it is disposed but laterally offset to one side of the cable 13, whereby the post will not interfere with the throwing of the ball. However, the post 41 is positioned to engage the batted ball if it is projecting horizontally outwardly from he cable so as to be disposed in a position whereby it would normally strike the person who originally threw the ball.
In a pratical construction of the batting pratice device illustrated in FIGS .1-3, the guide line 13 preferably has a length of between approximately 36 and 40 feet. Further, the distance from the line 13 to the center of the ball 29 is preferably approximately 16 inches, whereas the stop members 31 and 32 are each preferably spaced from their respective guide rods 17 and 21 by a spacing of approximately 18 inches, which spacing thus prevents the tethered ball assembly from becoming wrapped around the guide rods when the ring 27 contacts one of the stop members 31 or 32. The one-way stop device 37, on the other hand, is spaced from the adjacent stop member 31 by only a rather small distance, such as approximately 8 inches. The positioning line 44 for the safety device 39 preferably has a length of approximately 7 to 8 feet, and post 41 is preferably laterally positioned approximately 1 foot from the line 13. Regarding the relationship between the ring 27 and the one-way stop device 37 the internal diameter of the opening defined by the ring 27 is preferably slightly greater than than the maximum external diameter of the one-way stop device 37, there being provided therebetween a diametrical clearance of approximately one-sixteenth inch.
OPERATION The mode of operation of the batting pratice device 10 will be briefly described to insure a proper understanding thereof.
When the batting pratice device 10 is to be utilized, a person who is to throw the ball, hereafter referred to as the pitcher, will stand adjacent the post assembly 11. Similarly, a person who is to bat the ball, hereinafter referred to as the batter, will stand adjacent the post assembly 12. If the pitcher if right-handed, then the safety device 39 will be positioned with the upright post 41 disposed substantially as illustrated in FIG 3. The pitcher will stand behind the post 41, substantially within the region designated by the dotted circle 46. The pitcher will initially position the tethered ball assembly 14 closely adjacent but slightly forwardly of the one-way stop device 37, whereupon the pitcher will then grasp the ball 29 and throw same toward the batter standing, adjacent the post assembly 12. As the ball 29 approches the batter, the batter will swing at the ball and, if the batter contacts the ball, same will be forcibly moved in the oppoite direction toward the post assembly 11. Since the ball 29 is connected to the guide line 13 by means of the intermediate tether line 28, the batted ball 29 is confined to move'within a substantially cylindrical zone defined by the length of the tethered ball assembly 14. As the batted ball 29 approches the post assembly 11, the ring will be slidably cammed upwardly to pass over the tapered one-way stop device 37, whereupon the ring will the contact the stop member 31, which stop member will prevent the tethered ball 29 from wrapping around the guide rod 17 Due to the substantial monentum of the tethered ball assembly 14, the striking of the ring 27 against the stop member 31 oftne causes the ball 29 to rebound with substantial force in a direction toward the post assembly 12, which rebounding motion of the ball carries same toward the pitcher located in the region 46. However, any significant amount of rebound is prevented by the one-way stop device 37, which stop device forms a transverse shoulder which prevents the ring 27 from significantly sliding away from the stop member 31. The one-way stop device 37, in conjunction with the adjacent stop member 31, thus effectively restrains the ring 27 therebetween and prevents the tethered ball 29 from rebounding a substantial distance. The device 37 thus substantially prevents the pitcher from being struck by the batted ball during rebounding thereof, provided that the pitcher remains a proper distance from the post assembly 11, such as by remaining within the area 46. The one-way stop device 37 also causes the tethered ball 29, after being batted, to remain closely adjacent the pitching location so that the ball is thus in a position to be readily grasped by the pitcher to permit the ball to again be thrown toward the batter. The pitcher can thus repeatedly throw the ball toward the batter without having to move away from his pitching position to retrieve the batted ball.
The pitcher is also further protected from being struck by the batted ball due to the presence of the safety post 41. For example, in situations where the batted ball projects substantially horizontally outwardly from the line 13 on the same side thereof as the pitcher, the ball 29 will initially strike the post 41, which post will then cause the ball 29 to be deflected away from the pitcher. This latter safety feature is of particular imprtance when the batting device 10 is utilized by young children, who may fail to move out of the path of travel of the ball after having pitched same.
In situations where the pitcher is left-handed, then the safety post 41 would be laterally spaced from the guide line 13 on the opposite side thereof from that il lustrated in FIG. 3.
When the batter swings and misses the ball thrown by the pitcher, the ring 27 will strike the opposite stop member 32, thereby stopping the tethered ball assembly and enabling the batter to then push or throw the ball back to the pitcher. I
By suitable adjustment of the tension of the spring 33, which in turn results in a variation of the tension in the guide line 13, the path or motion characteristics of the thrown ball 29 can be suitably varied so that the ball 29 will thus travel through a path which substantially deviates from a straight line, whereby-the thrown ball will thus similate the different types of pitches conventionally thrown by baseball pitchers. Also, after the ball has been batted, the spring 33 minimizes and dampens the vibrations of the guide line 13 and causes it to quickly return to a stable or stationary positionso that the pitcher can then again pitch the ball 29 toward the batter.
MODIFICATION FIG. 4 illustrates therein a modified post assembly 51 which can be utilized as a substitute for the post assemblies 11 and 12 illustrated in FIG 1. The post assembly 51 is particularly designed to be portable and to be readily assembled or disassembled.
The post assembly 51 specifically includes a vertical upright post 52 having a pointed portion 53 on the lower end thereof adapted to be inserted into the ground. The post 52 has a collar 54 adjacent its lower for controlling the amount of insertion of the post into the ground. A plurality of flexible guide wires, particularly three guide wires 57, are anchored to an eyelet 56 fixedly to the upper end of the post 52. The guide wires 57 are disposed in a downwardly directed, substantially equiangular arrangement, such as is conventional when utilizing guide wires for supporting an upright post. The guide wires have their lower ends fixedly secured to stakes or anchors 58 adapted to be inserted into the ground.
The post 52 has one end of the guide line 13 connected thereto by means of the collar 23, which collar is slidably mounted on the post 52 and is fixedly secured in a selected position by means of the thumbscrew 26. The other end (not shown) of the guide line 13 is connected to a further post assembly identical to the post assembly 51 illustrated in FIG. 4. The upper end of the one post 52 also has the positioning wire 44 connected thereto, which positioning wire at its other end is connected to the safety post, such as the safety post 41 illustrated in FlGs. l and 3.
The remainder of the batting pratice device illustrated in FIG 4 is identical to the structure illustrated in FIGS 1-3, and thus further description thereof is not believed necessary.
In constructing the batting pratice device according to the present invention, the line 13 preferably constitutes a metal core or cable having a plastic coating thereon to provide a smooth, low friction surface for permitting free sliding movement of the ring 27. The stop members 31 and 32, and the one-way stop device 37, are also preferably molded from a relatively hard plastic, thereby enabling these members to be directly molded onto the plastic coating of the guide line 13. This thus provides a durable and strong connection between the stop members and the guide line 13.
Although a particular preferred embodiment of the invention has been disclosed in detail for illustrative purposes, it will be recognized that variations or modifications of the disclosed apparatus, including the rearrangement of the parts, lie within the scope of the present invention.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A batting pratice device, comprising:
an elongated, flexible guide line;
means coacting with the opposite ends of said guide line for fixedly anchoring same in a taut, substan tially horizontal position;
a tethered ball assembly slidably connected to and constrained for movement along said guide line, said assembly including a ball, a guide member slidably guided on said line, and flexible means interconnecting said ball to said guide member for maintaining said ball within a predetermined radial distance from said line;
first stop means fixedly secured to said line adjacent one end thereof for limiting the movement of said tethered ball assembly;
second stop means fixedly secured to said line adjacent the other end thereof for limiting movement of said tethered ball assembly, said tethered bail assembly thus being confined for movement between said first and second stop means; and
safety means positioned between said first and second stop means but disposed more closely adjacent said first stop means for controlling the movement of said tethered ball assembly after same has been batted;
whereby a first person stands adjacent said one end of said line and throws said ball toward a second person standing adjacent the other end of said line for permitting said second person to bat said ball, said safety device assisting in preventing the batted ball from striking said first person when the batted ball approaches or reaches said one end of said guide line.
2. A batting pratice device according to claim 1, wherein said safety means includes a one-way stop device fixedly secured to said line between said first and second stop means, said one-way stop device being positioned closely adjacent said first stop means and permitting said guide member to freely pass thereover as it moves toward said first stop means while substantially preventing said guide member from moving in the opposite direction after having passed over said oneway stop device.
3. A batting pratice device according to claim 2, wherein said one-way stop device comprises a tapered member fixedly secured to said line and disposed closely adjacent said first stop means, said tapered member converging in a direction toward said second stop means, said tapered member having a maximum transverse dimension slightly less than the internal opening defined by said guide member so as to provide a small annular clearance therebetween, whereby movement of said guide member along said line in a direction toward said first stop means causes said guide member to be cammed upwardly so as to freely slidably pass over said tapered member so as to engage said first stop means, said tapered member preventing said guide ring from freely rebounding away from said first stop means in the opposite direction.
4. A batting device according to claim 3, wherein a safety post assembly is positioned adjacent but laterally sidewardly of said guide line for protecting said first person from the batted ball, said safety post assembly being positioned between said tapered member and said second stop means but being disposed more closely adjacent said tapered member, and said safety post means being laterally displaced from said guide line by a distance at least slightly less than the maximum transverse spacing between said guide line and the center of of said ball.
5. A batting pratice device according to claim 1, wherein said safety means includes a safety post positioned between the opposite ends of said line but disposed more closely adjacent said one end of said line, said safety post being spaced laterally sidewardly of said line by a distance at least slightly less than the maximum transverse spacing between said guide line and the center of said ball, whereby said safety post is thus adapted to be disposed directly in front of said first person for partially protecting said first person against being hit by the batted ball.
6. A device according to claim 5, further including positioning means coacting between said safety post and said one end of said line for properly positioning said post a predertermined distance from said one end of said line.
7. A batting pratice device according to claim 1, further including a pair of upright post assemblies adapted to be fixedly secured to a substantially horizontal support surface, such as the ground, and said means coacting with the opposite ends of said guide line including bracket means for connecting the opposite ends of said guide line to said post assemblies for permitting the ends of said guide line to be vertically adjusted to a desired elevation.
8. A device according to claim 7, further including spring means connected between said line and one of said post assemblies, and means for varying the tension of said spring means for permitting the tension of said line to be selectively varied.
9. A batting pratice device according to claim 1, further including spring means operatively interconnected to said line adjacent one of the ends thereof for permitting the tension of said line to be selectively adjusted.
10. A batting device according to claim 9, wherein said spring means imposes on said line a force which extends in a direction forming a substantial acute angle relative to the elongated direction of said line.
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|Cooperative Classification||A63B2208/12, A63B69/0084|