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Title:
Portable batting practise cage and method of using the same
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A portable batting practise cage and method of use of the same. The portable batting practise cage includes several support poles and a non-supporting mesh shell. The shell has a substantially planar end wall, depending anchor lines and several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops. The shell is supported and held erect by inserting one of the several support poles through each of the several transversely positioned rows of externally positioned loops, and anchoring the mesh shell to a ground surface by means of the anchor lines. A pitching port is provided through the planar end wall of the shell, enabling a pitcher positioned outside of the structure to pitch to a batter positioned within the mesh shell.


Inventors:
Bruyer, Robert William (Edmonton, CA)
Legault, Denis Bernard (Edmonton, CA)
Application Number:
09/990623
Publication Date:
07/25/2002
Filing Date:
11/14/2001
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B71/02; (IPC1-7): A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIS & BUJOLD, P.L.L.C. (500 NORTH COMMERCIAL STREET, MANCHESTER, NH, 03101, US)
Claims:

The embodiments of the invention in which in an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:



1. A Method Of Using A Portable Batting Practise Cage, comprising the steps of: firstly, providing a portable batting practise cage comprising: several support poles; a non-supporting mesh shell having a substantially planar end wall, depending anchor lines and several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops; and a pitching port through the planar end wall of the shell; secondly, erecting the shell erect by inserting one of the several support poles through each of the several transversely positioned rows of externally positioned loops, and anchoring the mesh shell to a ground surface by means of the anchor lines; thirdly, positioning a pitcher outside of the shell and having the pitcher pitch balls through the port to a batter positioned inside of the shell.

2. A Portable Batting Practise Cage, comprising: several support poles; a non-supporting mesh shell having a substantially planar end wall, depending anchor lines and several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops, such that the shell is supported and held erect by inserting one of the several support poles through each of the several transversely positioned rows of externally positioned loops, and anchoring the mesh shell to a ground surface by means of the anchor lines; and a pitching port through the planar end wall of the shell.

3. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 2, wherein the mesh shell is a dome.

4. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 2, wherein each of the several support poles is capable of bending to assume an arch configuration.

5. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 2, wherein ends of each of the several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops terminate in tabs with pole engaging members.

6. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 2, wherein at least one closure is provided for blocking off a portion of the pitching port.

7. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 6, wherein a lower closure is provided for blocking off a lower portion of the pitching port and an upper closure is provided for blocking off an upper portion of the pitching port.

8. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 2, wherein the support poles are foldable for storage.

9. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 8, in combination with a carrying bag.

10. A Portable Batting Practise Cage, comprising: several flexible support poles having opposed ends, the support poles being capable of bending to assume an arch configuration, the support poles consisting of a plurality of interlocking sections held together with a flexible line that enables the support poles to be foldable for storage; a non-supporting mesh dome shell having a substantially planar end wall, depending anchor lines and several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops having ends terminating in tabs with pole engaging members, such that the mesh dome shell is supported and held erect by inserting one of the several flexible support poles through each of the several transversely positioned rows of externally positioned loops, securing the opposed ends of the poles to the pole engaging members to maintain the each of the support poles in an arch configuration and anchoring the mesh dome shell to a ground surface by means of the anchor lines; and a pitching port through the planar end wall of the dome shell.

11. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 10, wherein a closure is provided for blocking off a portion of the pitching port.

12. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 11, wherein a lower closure is provided for blocking off a lower portion of the pitching port and an upper closure is provided for blocking off an upper portion of the pitching port.

13. The Portable Batting Practise Cage as defined in claim 10, in combination with a carrying bag.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a portable batting practise cage.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Batting practise cages are used as a training tool by coaches of amateur baseball teams. The batting practise cages generally consist of a support frame with an exterior covering of mesh netting. An “L” shaped protective screen is provided within the batting practise cage for the coach to stand behind as he pitches the ball to the batters. There have been batting cages marketed as being “portable” but to date these portable batting cages still require a considerable amount of time for assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] What is required is a portable batting cage that can be rapidly erected with a minimum of assembly.

[0004] According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a portable batting practise cage which includes several support poles and a non-supporting mesh shell. The shell has a substantially planar end wall, depending anchor lines and several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops. The shell is supported and held erect by inserting one of the several support poles through each of the several transversely positioned rows of externally positioned loops, and anchoring the mesh shell to a ground surface by means of the anchor lines. A pitching port is provided through the planar end wall of the shell.

[0005] According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of using the described structure of portable batting practise cage. A structure, as described above, is first obtained and erected. A pitcher is then positioned outside of the structure. The pitcher pitches balls through the pitching port to a batter positioned inside of the structure.

[0006] The described batting practise cage structure and its method of use are believed to represent a paradigm shift in thinking regarding batting cages. In terms of the method of use, prior batting cages required both the pitcher and the batter to be positioned within the batting cage. This required the batting cage to be of a sufficient size to accommodate both the pitcher and the batter. The distance between the pitcher and the batter in professional leagues is 60 feet. The distance between the pitcher and the batter in amateur leagues is 48 feet. Although it has never been a requirement that batting cages be of a regulation distance, most batting cages are manufactured to a length of over 40 feet. With the present method the pitcher is positioned outside of the batting cage. There need only be sufficient room for a batter to function comfortably, as a consequence a much smaller structure can be utilized. The pitcher can, of course, stand any desired distance away from the pitching port of batting practise cage. The only limitations are practical considerations. One practical consideration is the ability of the pitcher to accurately pitch the ball through the pitching port to the batter strike zone from a given distance. Another practical consideration is having the batter far enough back from the pitching port that it is unlikely that he will drive the ball back out through the pitching port. In terms of the structure, as will hereinafter be further described, the batting practise cage is intended to more closely resemble a tent, than prior art batting cage structures. Unlike a tent, in order to function as a batting cage the shell must have a planar face where a pitching port is located. The poles must be exterior to the shell, as otherwise the light weight poles would be exposed to balls and would shatter upon impact.

[0007] Although beneficial results may be obtained through the use of the portable batting practise cage, as described above, even more beneficial results may be obtained through the addition of selected features and combinations of features, as will hereafter be further described. It is preferred that a domed shell be used. It is preferred that each of the several support poles be capable of bending to assume an arch configuration. It is preferred that foldable poles be used with a plurality of interlocking sections held together with a flexible line, such as are now becoming popular with tents. It is preferred that ends of each of the several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops terminate in pole engaging members so that the poles can be slid through the loops and engaged with the pole engaging members to maintain them in an arch configuration. For reasons of safety, it is preferred that a closure be provided for blocking off a portion of the pitching port and reducing the likelihood of the batter driving a ball back through the pitching port.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] These and other features of the invention will become more apparent from the following description in which reference is made to the appended drawings, the drawings are for the purpose of illustration only and are not intended to in any way limit the scope of the invention to the particular embodiment or embodiments shown, wherein:

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable batting cage constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of the portable batting cage illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a detailed perspective view of pole and loop engagement for the portable batting cage illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0012] FIG. 4 is a detailed perspective view of an upper anchor line for the portable batting cage illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0013] FIG. 5 is a detailed perspective view of pole and pole engaging member engagement for the portable batting cage illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0014] FIG. 6 is a detailed perspective view of the use of the portable batting cage illustrated in FIG. 1, in accordance with the preferred method of use.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a detailed perspective view of the portable batting cage illustrated in FIG. 1 with carrying bag.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0016] The preferred embodiment, a portable batting practise cage generally identified by reference numeral 10, will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 through 7.

[0017] Structure and Relationship of Parts

[0018] Referring to FIG. 1, there is provided a portable batting practise cage 10 which includes several flexible support poles 12 and a non-supporting mesh dome shell 14. Support poles 12 have opposed ends 16 and are capable of bending to assume an arch configuration. Referring to FIG. 7, support poles 12 consist of a plurality of interlocking sections 18 held together with a flexible line 20 that enables support poles 12 to be folded for storage.

[0019] Referring to FIG. 6, dome shell 14 has a substantially planar end wall 22, depending anchor lines 24 and several transversely extending rows of externally positioned loops 26. In the illustrated embodiment, dome shell 14 is depicted as having upper anchor lines 28 or lower anchor lines 30. Referring to FIG. 4, upper anchor lines 28 terminate in a loop 44. Referring to FIG. 5, lower anchor lines 30 have grommets 34 which server as pole engaging members. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 6, a pitching port 36 is provided through planar end wall 22 of dome shell 14. An lower closure 38 is provided for blocking off an lower portion 39 of pitching port 36 and an upper closure 41 is provided for blocking off an upper portion 43 of pitching port 36. Referring to FIG. 7, portable batting practise cage 10 fits into a small carrying bag 60. Carrying bag 60 is 14 inches high, 14 inches wide and 42 inches long. The weight is approximately 50 pounds and, as such, can easily be carried by one person.

[0020] Operation

[0021] The use and operation of portable batting practise cage 10 will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 through 7. Referring to FIG. 7, portable batting practise cage 10 is transported to the site of the practise in carrying bag 60. Once at the site, support poles 12, non-supporting mesh shell 14 and ground spikes 42 are removed from carrying bag 60. Foldable support poles 12 are then assembled. Referring to FIG. 3, portable batting practise cage 10 is erected by inserting one of flexible support poles 12 through each of transversely positioned rows of externally positioned loops 26. Referring to FIG. 5, opposed ends 16 of support poles 12 are secured to grommets 34 of lower anchor lines 30 to maintain each of support poles 12 in an arcuate orientation. Although in the illustrated embodiment, pole engaging members are depicted as being grommets 34, it will be appreciated that there are other means available which could function as pole engaging members. Referring to FIG. 6, mesh dome shell 14 is anchored to a ground surface 40 by means of upper anchor lines 28. Referring to FIG. 5, upper anchor lines 28 are secured to ground surface 40 by inserting ground spikes 42 though loops 33 and then into ground surface 40.

[0022] Referring to FIG. 6, in use, a pitcher 46 positions himself outside of the dome shell 14. Pitcher 46 then pitches balls 48 through port 36 to a batter 50 positioned inside of dome shell. Either lower closure 38 is used to block off lower portion 39 of pitching port 36 or upper closure 41 is used to block off upper portion 43 of pitching port 36. This is done to reduce the likelihood of batter 50 driving ball 48 back through pitching port 36. Pitcher 46 can stand back any desirable pitching distance from port 36. Which closure 38 or 41 is used will depend upon whether the pitcher pitches overhand style such as is common for hard ball or underhand style such as it common for soft ball.

[0023] Referring to FIG. 7, portable batting practise cage 10 can be erected or collapsed in the time it would take to erect a tent. Once collapsed, non-supporting mesh shell 14, foldable poles 12, and ground spikes 42 can be stuffed back into carrying bag 60.

[0024] Although portable batting practise cage 10 is intended for outdoor use, it can be used indoors in a gymnasium. When used indoors upper anchor lines 28 are secured to the gymnasium floor with tape being substituted for ground spikes 42.

[0025] In this patent document, the word “comprising” is used in its non-limiting sense to mean that items following the word are included, but items not specifically mentioned are not excluded. A reference to an element by the indefinite article “a” does not exclude the possibility that more than one of the element is present, unless the context clearly requires that there be one and only one of the elements.

[0026] It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the illustrated embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter defined in the Claims.