US 3810616 A
A backstop device of low cost, lightweight, thin sheet material adapted to stop and collect thrown balls or the like. The device comprises a deeply dished nestable shell having a flat, chordal base segment upon which it stands on edge, and fence means for retaining the balls within the rim or flange of the shell. The shell surface against which the balls are directed is conveniently lined with some energy absorbing material to reduce the noise and distribute the impact forces. The ball collection means is of fabric or netting to permit nesting and a back brace is foldable for the same purpose.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
[451 May 14, 1974 1 1 TARGET APPARATUS WITH BALL CATCHING MEANS  Inventor: Lillian A. Murphy, 145 Elliott'St.,
Haverhill, Mass. 01830  Filed: Dec. 26, 1972  Appl. No.: 318,544
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,537,809 5/1925 Eaton 273/181 A 3,260,527 7/1966 Younce 273/105 A X 2,586,958 2/1952 2,254,986 /1941 2,321,835 6/1943 3,390,882 7/1968 Megerle 273/176 B X Primary Examiner-Richard C. Pinkham Assistant Examiner-Theatrice Brown Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Pearson & Pearson  ABSTRACT A backstop device of low cost, lightweight, thin sheet material adapted to stop and collect thrown balls or the like. The device comprises a deeply dished nestable shell having a flat, chordal base segment upon which it stands on edge, and fence means for retaining the balls within the rim or fiange of the shell. The shell surface against which the balls are directed is conveniently lined with some energy absorbing material to reduce the noise and distribute the impact forces. The ball collection means is of fabric or netting to permit nesting and a back brace is foldable for the same purpose.
6 Claims, 3 Drawing Figures TARGET APPARATUS WITH BALL CATCHING MEANS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a novel backstop target device for use in retaining balls or the like which are aimed thereat during practice. While the invention will be described with respect to a baseball backstop, it will be understood that it has application to such practice target installations as those simulating a hockey goal, etc.
A large number of backstop devices are known to the art. Among such devices are those described by Ziel in U. S. Pat. Nos. 2,254,986 and 2,873,969. These backstop devices are targets, relatively heavy, and have no means for collecting the balls. Another group of backstop devices is illustrated by those disclosed in U. S. Pat. Nos. 3,206,196 to Jackson and 2,944,816 to Dixon. These devices comprise a spring-like target which is sufficiently resilient to repel the ball towards the direction from which it was thrown.
A number of other devices have been developed to aid the baseball player. These include an electronic pitch-monitoring device, such as that disclosed in U. S. Pat. No. 3,229,975. Another device disclosed in the art is for use in a game and comprises a complex of retainer tubes at the bottom of the device to serve to catch balls thrown into a hood-like chamber. The tubes serve as a score determining means.
In general, the devices of the prior art have been more suitable for semi-permanent installation and have lacked that portability appropriate for apparatus to be handled by a boy. Moreover, the bounce-back features have pre-supposed a relatively flat surface about the area in which the practice device is to be used. While this is often the case, the location of such devices is restricted in many ways when a bounce-back feature is used. For example, the target cannot be positioned on a driveway which slopes to a street, on the opposite side ofa flower garden or swimming pool from the thrower, and so forth.
These are some of the problems which the inventor attempted to avoid. In so doing, it will be seen, apparatus was developed which also has other decided advantages.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is a principal object of the invention to provide an improved target device for use with projectiles of relatively low velocity, for example projectiles of less than 200 miles per hour.
Another object of the invention is to provide a target practice device which comprises a restraining means and is relatively easy to assemble, install, and move about.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a lightweight target-practice device which is relatively quiet in use.
Other objects of the invention will be obvious to those skilled in the art on their reading this application.
The above objects have been substantially accomplished by the construction of a simulated target back stop device which includes a nestable member comprising both a target face and a restraining rim. In general, such a device can resemble a childs plastic wading pool and be selected of whatever size is appropriate for the particular target to be simulated. The lower portion of the rim holds a fencing means, such as a plastic webbing. The fencing means, together with an adjacent portion of the rim, forms means to collect balls impacted against the target face. Support means are utilized to hold the nestable member in upright position.
It is particularly advantageous to utilize the restraining fence to hold a target indicating means. For example, the fence means can hold a baseball home plate" as a sighting target, or guide, mounted in front of a catcher's mitt" or strike zone" target. The sighting target is advantageously detachably mounted so it can be positioned relative to the particular habits of given players, say given batters or catchers.
Another advantageous embodiment of the invention is that wherein the target face (or reverse side thereof, or both) is covered, at least in part, with a material that will form means to distribute the impact forces against the target face. Use of such a material, advantageously a material based on an organic plastic or resin, will help avoid easy denting or make use of a thinner structure material and consequently permit the construction of lighter targets. Moreover, such a facing is advantageously thick enough and sufficiently absorptive of energy to provide means to prevent the target apparatus from being excessively noisy during use. Among the organic polymer and organic resin based coatings which are useful are those based on polyurethane formulations and those based on flexible thermoplastics, such as polyethylene and polypropylene. These coatings can be solid in the form or formed of open-cell or closedcell foams. Where noise avoidance is particularly important, one or more such plastic layers may be formed of such compositions as poly(vinylacetate), poly(vinyl chloride), or the like, highly loaded with carbon black. Such highly loaded materials provide extraordinary energy absorbing characteristics.
it should be noted that these coatings or covering layers may be selectively placed. For example, it may be advantageous to put a sound absorbing coating only over those areas of the target face that represent a hit or miss so that the sound or lack thereof will be indicative of a hit or miss. This would be of particular value for use in target applications wherein the projectile comes in at different angles and at very high speed. Hockey targets would be a good example of this.
The nestable target section can be formed of moldable thermoplastic materials, as is known in the art, or it may be drawn from laminated sheets. Alternately, the nestable shell can be formed of glass-fiber reinforced polyester, or from sheet metal, even from unitary flanged pie-plate type structures. The exact thickness of the basic structure will be dependent on the size of the intended target area with a reasonable allowance for target-missing projectiles, the type and velocity of projectile to impactthereon.
Apertures can be cut into the target face and, in such a case, it is desirable to have a container on the back of the target to collect the projectile.
ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION In this application and accompanying drawings there is shown and described a preferred embodiment of the invention and suggested various alternatives and modi- IN THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a front elevation of a simulated target device ,according to the invention;
FIG. 2 shows a side elevation, partly in section, of the apparatus of the invention showing a typical multi-layer construction, a target aperture and a collecting means;
FIG. 3 shows the side view of a fragment of an alternate target face arrangement.
Referring to FIG. 1, it is seen that a large molded sheet 11 of a polyolefin thermoplastic has been molded into a simulated target apparatus comprising a flat,
circular bottom, or target face section, 12 including,
both the target area, or strike zone, 14 and a marginal area 16. Apparatus 10 comprises an integrally molded, outwardly flared, annular flange, or rim, member 17 which, in conjunction with a fence of flexible plastic netting 18 forms a projectile retaining means or baseball collecting means. It will be seen that bottom chordal base segment 20 of rim 17 has been flattened and is thereby adapted to be positioned against a floor or the ground by any suitable fastening means, for example ground anchors 24. A sighting target 22, such as a simulated home plate, is mounted on netting 18.
Face 26 is covered with a shock absorbing material, such as closed-cell, resilient, ethylene-vinylacetate copolymer foam 29 about 0.06 inches in thickness. Such a sheet product is available from Proctor Laminar, Inc., of St. Louis, Mo. On this material is painted the target face 12.
The foam material is resilient and forms a means for both absorbing and distributing stress under impact of projectiles such as baseballs which will be thrown against the target. In the apparatus of FIG. 1, there is an aperture 28 in the target face section through which a baseball properly pitched into the strike zone will pass into the ball collection bag.
FIG. 2, partly in section, illustrates a side view of the apparatus in FIG. 1. It will be seen that ball collection means in the form of a container comprising a flexible bag 30 and a flange 32 has been placed into aperture 28 and forms a collecting means 34 for any projectiles passing through the aperture 28. Moreover, it is seen that a foldable brace 36 is pivoted to the rear face of bottom 12 to fold flatwise thereagainst to support the device in erected position.
The ball collection means, or projectile retaining means, 34 includes either, or both, of the elongated, compressible, fabric or net bag, or bags, 30 and the receptacle 50 formed by the compressible, fabric, or net, fence 18 with the segment 52 of the flange 17. Both collect and retain the baseballs 54 and both may be detachably affixed to the target 10 by suitable hooks, or clips, 56 in holes 58. Similarly, the sighting target 22 may be detachably affixed to the fence 18 by clips 56, whereby the device is easily erected or dismantled and stored in compact nested condition.
Also seen in FIG. 2 is the multi-ply wall structure comprising plastic foam 29 and a molded sheet 11.
FIG. 3 shows a fragment of an alternative target structure 40. Structure 40 includes a plurality of apertures 42 in the strike zone. However, its primary difference is seen in the fact that the structure comprises a polyethylene layer 44 of about 0.050 mils thick. at poly(vinylchloride) sheet 46 heavily filled with carbon black to assure sound dampening properties, on a sheet of aluminum 48.
It is also to be understood that the following claims are intended to cover all of the generic and specific features of the invention herein described and all statements of the scope of the invention which might be said to fall therebetween.
1. A baseball pitchers target device. comprising:
a deeply dished body of thin sheet material of uniform thickness, said body having a flat, circular bottom and an outwardly flared annular flange integral therewith and upstanding therearound;
said bottom and said flange having a flattened chordal base segment existing in a common plane, adapted to rest flatwise on a surface when said body is erected on edge,
said flat, circular bottom having at least one aperture in an area thereof forming a strike zone;
brace means pivotedto the rear of said flat, circular bottom and foldable flatwise thereagainst; and
said body having ball collection means formed of fabric material, positioned at the rear and in front of said erected body, for collecting baseballs passing through said aperture and impacting against the front face respectively of said bottom.
2. A baseball pitchers target device as specified in claim 1, plus:
a layer of shock absorbing plastic adhered to the front face of said circular bottom for reducing the bounce-back of balls contacting said face.
3. A baseball pitchers target device as specified in claim 1, wherein:
said ball collection means includes a pocket having its open end fastened around said aperture at the rear of said body to collect balls passing therethrough and a ball retaining fence of said fabric material extending across the lower front of said body to collect baseballs impacting the front face of said bottom; and
said flat, circular bottom includes a layer of shock absorbent material adhered to its front face for reducing the bounce back of balls contacting the same.
4. Apparatus as defined in claim 3, wherein:
said ball retaining fence includes a sighting target mounted thereon.
5. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein:
said flat, circular bottom is formed of a multilayer construction comprising a primary structural sheet member and a stress distributing layer of plastic material.
6. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein:
said ball collection means is formed of a flexible fabric material and is detachably fastened at the rear and in front of said erected body.