Sign up
Title:
Performance adjusting attachment for a ball bat and method of using same
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An attachment for a ball bat having a proximal knob end includes a member having first and second opposing surfaces. The first surface is configured to be fixedly attached to the knob end of the bat. The member has a predetermined weight that is sufficient to adjust the performance of the bat.


Inventors:
Guenther, Douglas G. (Wheaton, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/226699
Publication Date:
02/26/2004
Filing Date:
08/23/2002
Assignee:
Wilson Sporting Goods Co.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/568
International Classes:
A63B59/06; (IPC1-7): A63B59/06
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20030119596Putting stroke grooving aidJune, 2003Matthews
20070219023C-shaped disk holderSeptember, 2007Stanley
20060025228Telescoping pool and billiard cue bridgeFebruary, 2006Light
20070238543Golfing equipmentOctober, 2007Cooper et al.
20080009361Sweetheart putterJanuary, 2008Johnson
20100041495GOLF DRIVER HEAD WITH EXCHANGEABLE REAR SECTIONSFebruary, 2010North III et al.
20020013186Break-away, low resistance golf teeJanuary, 2002Webb
20090062042LIGHTED NOCK FOR ARCHERY ARROWMarch, 2009Huang et al.
20030186762Introduced in tennis racketOctober, 2003Silva
20040142780Disposition introduced in sports ballJuly, 2004Estefano
20060223653Golf driver having titanium alloy head and flexible shaftOctober, 2006Iizuka
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Wilson Sporting, Goods Co Terence O'brien P. (8700 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60631, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An attachment for a ball bat having a proximal knob end, the attachment comprising: a member having first and second opposing surfaces, the first surface configured to be fixedly attached to the knob end of the bat, the member having a predetermined weight, the weight being sufficient to adjust the performance of the bat.

2. The attachment of claim 1 wherein the predetemined weight is at least 0.5 ounces.

3. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the predetermined weight is within the range of 0.5 to 3.0 ounces.

4. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the second opposing surface includes indicia selected the group consisting of graphical indicia, alphanumeric indicia, and combinations thereof.

5. The attachment of claim 4, wherein the indicia is applied to the second surface of the member by a means selected from the group consisting of engraving, screen printing, pad printing, etching, painting, embossing and a combination thereof.

6. The attachment of claim 4, wherein the indicia further includes at least one marking representative of bat specifications, advertising information, source data, at least one trademark, and at least one certification mark.

7. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the member is a disk.

8. The attachment of claim 7, wherein the first surface is generally concave and generally conforms to the knob end of the bat.

9. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the member is a generally annular member.

10. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the member further comprises a shear pin outwardly extending from the first surface.

11. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the member, when fixedly secured to the knob end of the bat, reduces the batted ball speed of the bat by at least 0.5 feet per second.

12. The attachment of claim 1, wherein the member, when fixedly secured to the knob end of the bat, reduces the batted ball speed of the bat by at least 1.5 feet per second.

13. A ball bat comprising: an elongate body extending along a longitudinal axis having a handle portion and a primary hitting portion; the handle portion including a knob having a knob end surface, at least a portion of the knob end surface being generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis; and a member having first and second opposing surfaces, the first surface of the member fixedly coupled to the knob end surface, the member having a predetermined weight, the weight being sufficient to adjust the performance of the bat.

14. The bat of claim 13 wherein the predetemined weight of the member is at least 0.5 ounces.

15. The bat of claim 13, wherein the predetermined weight of the member is within the range of 0.5 to 3.0 ounces.

16. The bat of claim 13, wherein the second opposing surface includes indicia selected the group consisting of graphical indicia, alphanumeric indicia, and combinations thereof.

17. The bat of claim 16, wherein the indicia is applied to the second surface of the member by a means selected from the group consisting of engraving, screen printing, pad printing, etching, painting, embossing and a combination thereof.

18. The bat of claim 16, wherein the indicia further includes at least one marking representative of bat specifications, advertising information, source data, at least one trademark, and at least one certification mark.

19. The bat of claim 13, wherein the member is a disk.

20. The bat of claim 19, wherein the first surface is generally concave and generally conforms to the knob end of the bat.

21. The bat of claim 13, wherein the member is a generally annular member.

22. The bat of claim 13, wherein the member further comprises a shear pin outwardly extending from the first surface.

23. The bat of claim 22 wherein the knob includes an aperture, and wherein the shear pin extends at least partially into the aperture.

24. The bat of claim 13, wherein the member is fixedly coupled to the knob by fastening means, and wherein the fastening means is selected from the group consisting of at least one fastener, an adhesive, welding, bonding, adhesive tape, and combinations thereof.

25. The bat of claim 13, wherein the member, when fixedly secured to the knob end of the bat, reduces the batted ball speed of the bat by at least 0.5 feet per second.

26. The bat of claim 13, wherein the member, when fixedly secured to the knob end of the bat, reduces the batted ball speed of the bat by at least 1.5 feet per second.

27. A method of adjusting the performance of a ball bat, the method including the steps of: obtaining a bat having a handle portion and a primary hitting portion, the handle portion including a knob having a knob end surface; obtaining a member having first and second opposing surfaces, the member having a predetermined weight for adjusting a performance characteristic of the bat; and fixedly coupling the member to the knob end surface of the bat.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein the predetemined weight of the member is at least 0.5 ounces.

29. The method of claim 27, wherein the predetermined weight of the member is within the range of 0.5 to 3.0 ounces.

30. The method of claim 27, further comprising the step of applying indicia to the second surface of the member, and wherein the indicia is selected the group consisting of graphical indicia, alphanumeric indicia, and combinations thereof.

31. The method of claim 30, wherein the indicia is applied to the second surface of the member by a means selected from the group consisting of engraving, screen printing, pad printing, etching, painting, embossing and a combination thereof.

32. The method of claim 27, wherein the indicia further includes at least one marking representative of bat specifications, advertising information, source data, at least one trademark, and at least one certification mark.

33. The method of claim 27, wherein the member further comprises a shear pin outwardly extending from the first surface, wherein the knob includes an aperture, and wherein the shear pin extends at least partially into the aperture.

34. The method of claim 27, wherein the step of fixedly coupling the member to the knob end surface of the knob is performed by applying an adhesive to at least one of the first surface of the member and the knob end surface, and placing the first surface of the member and the knob end surface together.

35. The method of claim 34, wherein the adhesive is an adhesive tape.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to baseball and softball bats. In particular, the present invention relates to an attachment to a ball bat that adjusts the performance of the bat.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Baseball and softball bats were originally made of wood. In recent years, ball bats produced from different materials have emerged, including bats produced from metals, composite materials and combinations thereof. These recently produced ball bats generally provide improved performance including improved impact response and power transfer from the bat to a batted ball. This improved response typically results in greater slugging distances and greater batted ball speeds.

[0003] Ball bats used in competitive play are typically subjected to the requirements of one or more industry associations, such as, for example, the Amateur Softball Association (“ASA”). Such associations typically establish standards, guidelines, rules or requirements, which are used to determine if equipment, such as a ball bat, is acceptable for use in competitive play. If an association approves a bat for use in competitive play, the association typically will allow its certification mark to be added to the outer surface of the bat. The certification mark indicates to the Industry, including players and umpires, that the bat complies with the association's standards for competitive play. Conversely, if a bat fails to meet an association's bat performance standards, the association may temporarily or permanently suspend or revoke its approval and the bat may be excluded from competitive play.

[0004] The performance characteristics of a bat typically are not precisely determined until the bat is actually tested. Additionally, performance characteristics of the bat can change if the configuration or design of the bat is altered. For example, a design change that shifts the center of mass of a bat closer or further from one end of the bat can affect the bat performance characteristics, such as, for example, “batted ball speed,” the center of mass and the center of percussion. It is not uncommon for a new or modified bat to fail to meet the bat performance standards, rules or requirements of an association.

[0005] Thus, a need exists for an efficient and reliable approach for effectively adjusting the performance characteristics of a bat that fails to fully comply with the standards or requirements of an association, without requiring significant reconstruction, remanufacturing or reworking of the bat, and without requiring recall of bats existing in the market. There is also a need for an efficient means for adjusting the performance of the bat that can be readily identified by participants including players and umpires. What is also needed is an apparatus or method of easily and efficiently adjusting the performance of a bat that can be easily implemented by the users and retailers of such bats.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention provides an attachment for a ball bat having a proximal knob end. The attachment includes a member having first and second opposing surfaces. The first surface is configured to be fixedly attached to the knob end of the bat. The member has a predetermined weight that is sufficient to adjust the performance of the bat.

[0007] According to a principal aspect of the invention, a ball bat includes an elongate body and a member. The body extends along a longitudinal axis and has a handle portion and a primary hitting portion. The handle portion includes a knob having a knob end surface. At least a portion of the knob end surface is generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis. The member has first and second opposing surfaces. The first surface of the member is fixedly coupled to the knob end surface. The member has a predetermined weight that is sufficient to adjust the performance of the bat.

[0008] The present invention also contemplates a method of adjusting the performance of a ball bat. The method includes obtaining a bat having a handle portion and a primary hitting portion. The handle portion includes a knob having a knob end surface. The method further includes obtaining a member having first and second opposing surfaces, and fixedly coupling the first surface of the member to the knob end surface of the bat. The member has a predetermined weight for adjusting a performance characteristic of the bat.

[0009] This invention will become more fully understood from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings described herein below, and wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a bat in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the handle portion of the bat of FIG. 1.

[0012] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the attachment of the bat of FIG. 1.

[0013] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of an attachment for a bat in accordance with an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0014] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of an attachment for a bat in accordance with another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of an attachment for a bat in accordance with another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of an attachment for a bat in accordance with another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of an attachment for a bat in accordance with another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional, perspective view of an attachment positioned on a bat in accordance with another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0019] Referring to FIG. 1, a ball bat 10 in accordance with the present invention is indicated generally at 10. The bat 10 of FIG. 1 is configured as a softball bat, however, the invention is also directly applicable to baseball bats and other ball bats. The ball bat 10 includes a bat body 12 and a performance adjusting attachment 14. The bat body 12 is an elongate frame extending along a longitudinal axis 16. The body 12 is preferably tubular and is preferably formed of a strong, durable material, such as a metal, a metallic alloy or a composite material. In an alternative embodiment, the body 12 can be formed of wood. The body 12 includes an impact portion 18, a handle portion 20, and an intermediate tapered portion 22 that extends between the handle and impact portions 18 and 20.

[0020] Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the handle portion 20 of the body 12 includes a knob 24 having a knob end surface 26. Preferably, at least a portion of the knob end surface 26 is positioned substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 16 of the bat 10. In a preferred embodiment, the knob 24 includes an aperture 28 extending through the knob end surface 26 along the axis 16. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the aperture is at least 0.080 inches.

[0021] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, the attachment 14 is a disk-like member having opposing first and second surfaces 30 and 32. The first surface 30 is generally concave and generally conforms to the knob end surface 26 of the knob 24. The first surface 30 of the attachment 14 is coupled to the knob end surface 26 of the knob 24. In a preferred embodiment, the attachment 14 is connected to the knob 24 by an adhesive. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the adhesive is a layer of double-sided adhesive tape 34 sized to match the mating portions of the first surface 30 and the knob end surface 26, and has a thickness of approximately 45 millimeters. The layer of adhesive tape 34 preferably includes a hole 36, which can be used for receiving a portion of the attachment 14. The double-sided adhesive tape 34 can be a very high bonding adhesive transfer tape, such as 3M® VHB™ 4950 supplied by 3M Corporation of St. Paul, Minn. The tape 34 has high tensile, shear and peel strength and is resistant to solvents and moisture. In alternative preferred embodiments, other types, sizes and thicknesses of adhesive tape can be used. In other preferred embodiments, the attachment 14 can be coupled to the knob 24 through other means, such as, for example, welding, thermal bonding, chemical bonding, one or more fasteners, and combinations thereof.

[0022] Referring to FIG. 2, the second surface 32 of the attachment preferably is generally flat. Alternatively, the second surface can also be concave, convex or have other contours. The second surface 32 preferably includes indicia 38. The indicia 38 can be alphanumeric, graphical or a combination thereof. The indicia 38 can include specification information, advertising information, source data, trademarks, certification marks and combinations thereof. Specification information may include information such as characteristics of the bat, attachment installation instructions, dimensions, warnings, bar codes, test results and design features. Advertising information may include information such as slogans, product ratings, product attributes and information on related products. Certification marks, indicating that the bat 10 complies with specific guidelines, standards or requirements of an Industry group for competitive play, can be applied to the second surface 32. The second surface 32 is advantageously sized to enable a certification mark to be displayed in a size that meets the quality control requirements of most certification marks. The indicia 38 can be applied to the second surface 32 of the attachment 14 through engraving, screen printing, pad printing, etching, painting, embossing or a combination thereof.

[0023] Referring to FIG. 3, the first surface 30 of the attachment 14 preferably includes an outwardly extending shear pin 40. When attached to the knob 24 of the bat 10 the shear pin 40 extends through the hole 36 of the adhesive tape 34 and into the aperture 28 of the knob 24. The shear pin 40 resists shear and inhibits lateral movement of the attachment 14 relative to the knob end surface 26 of the knob 24. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the shear pin 40 has a diameter of approximately 0.80 inches and a length of approximately 0.125 inches. Other shear pin dimensions can also be used.

[0024] The attachment 14 is preferably sized to conform with the knob end surface 26 of the bat 10 and to provide a sufficient amount of weight to achieve the desired adjustment in bat performance characteristics. In particular, the attachment 14 enables adjustment of the “batted ball speed”, commonly referred to as BBS, the center of mass, and the center of percussion of the bat 10. The weight of the attachment 14 is at least 0.5 ounces. In a preferred embodiment, the attachment weighs between 0.5 and 3.0 ounces. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the attachment weighs 2.0 ounces. Other weights for the attachment can also be used. Also, in a particularly preferred embodiment, the attachment 14 has a thickness of approximately 0.125 inches, the diameter of the second surface is approximately 1.55 inches and the diameter of the first surface is approximately 1.726 inches. The attachment 14 can also be sized in alternative dimensions. The attachment is made of a durable material, preferably steel. Alternatively, other materials, or combinations of materials, can also be used such as for example, other metals, composite materials, plastics, or weighted materials.

[0025] The attachment 14 can be easily and quickly installed onto a new or existing bat. The attachment is configured for easy installation by the user of the bat, a retailer, or in a bat production facility. One method that can be used to install the attachment 14 to the knob 24 is described below. Other methods can be also be used. First the bat 10 and the attachment 14 are obtained. The knob end surface 26 of the bat 10 is then inspected for the presence of stickers or irregularities. If a sticker is identified on the knob end surface, it is removed. The knob end surface 26 is then cleaned, with an alcohol wipe, cleansing pad or other comparable means, to remove any dirt, debris, or residual adhesive from the knob end surface. The knob end surface is then allowed to dry, preferably for at least 30 seconds.

[0026] The layer of adhesive tape 34 is applied to one or both of the first surface of the attachment and the knob end surface of the knob. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the layer of adhesive tape 34 is pre-attached to first surface of the attachment and a removable cover layer is positioned on the exposed surface of the adhesive layer. The shear pin of the attachment preferably extends through the hole of the layer of adhesive tape 34. The removable cover layer is then peeled off, or otherwise removed from, the layer of adhesive to expose the adhesive tape 34. The attachment 14 is then aligned with the knob end surface. In particular, the shear pin is aligned with the aperture of the knob end surface 26 of the knob 24. The attachment 14 is then placed over the knob end surface 26 and firmly applied to the knob 24. Preferably, pressure to firmly apply the attachment to the knob 24 is applied for approximately 10 to 15 seconds. The bat 10, with the installed attachment, is then preferably allowed to cure. The cure period can be within one hour or as great as 48 hours. The bat 10 is then ready for use.

[0027] The present invention provides a fast, reliable and permanent means of adjusting the performance characteristics of a bat. Ease of implementation and the effectiveness of the present invention enables the attachment to be readily installed by players, retailers, dealers, and bat producers. The durability and effectiveness of the attachment along with its ease of installation, allows the attachment to be effectively used by players, dealers, retailers and bat producers to quickly adjust the performance of a bat without requiring the bats to be recalled, and reworked or remanufactured. The configuration of the attachment is also well suited for receiving a certification mark, or other marking, which provides a highly visible and easily detectable means of differentiating a bat with an attachment from one without an attachment. Additionally, the attachment can be sized to match the desired performance adjustment for a specific bat, specific bat model or specific bat line.

[0028] The performance adjusting attributes of the present invention are further illustrated by the following example. The present invention is not limited to the following example, and various changes and modifications may be made in the invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof.

EXAMPLE

[0029] A single bat, a DeMarini® Doublewall™ Classic™, was tested on three separate dates by an independent testing facility, Sports Science Center of New York, N.Y. Sports Science Center is an approved testing facility of the ASA, and the tests were performed in accordance with the ASA Bat Performance Standards. The tests include a determination of the term “Batted Ball Speed” (“BBS”), which refers to the velocity derived from the bat performace factor calculations set forth in Section 4.3.10 of ASTM Standard F1890-01 (hereby incorporated by reference). The BBS calculation uses the following variables.

[0030] (1) V=Bat Swing Speed (mph)=the greater of 70 mph*(30 oz./W)1/4 or 70 mph.

[0031] (2) v=Pitch Speed (mph)=10 mph

[0032] (3) W=Bat Weight (oz.)=actual bat weight

[0033] (4) w=Bat Weight (oz.)=6.5 oz.

[0034] (5) I=Moment of Inertia=as calculated by ASTM F1890-01

[0035] (6) e=Bat-Ball COR=as calculated by Section 6.1 of ASTM F1890-01

[0036] (7) a=Distance from pivot to center of mass=as calculated per the ASTM Standard

[0037] (8) R=Distance from pivot to center of percussion=as calculated per the ASTM Standard

[0038] (9) k=Bat-Ball Inertia Ratio=the value drived from performing the calculations described in Section 4.3.9 of ASTM F1890-01

[0039] A ball COR of 0.47 ±0.01 is used in lieu of Section 5.2.1.5 of ASTM F1890-01.

[0040] Each of the three tests of the single bat included measurement of the bat's center of mass, center of percussion and BBS. The first test was performed on the bat without an attachment. The second test was performed the bat with a first attachment having a weight of 1.0 ounces. The third test was performed on the bat with a second attachment having a weight of 2.0 ounces. The results of each test are shown in the following table. 1

RESULTS OF THE TESTS OF A DEMARINI
DOUBLEWALL CLASSIC BAT
ATTACH-
MENTCENTER
ATTACH-WEIGHTCENTEROF PER-BBS
DATEMENT(Ounces)OF MASSCUSSION(fps)
Jul. 30, 2002NONEN/A15.8221.56129.1
Aug. 13, 2002YES1.015.2322.18126.4
Aug. 17, 2002YES2.014.6622.53124.6

[0041] The test results indicate that with an attachment of 1.0 ounces the BBS dropped by 2.7 feet per second, and with an attachment of 2.0 ounces the BBS dropped by a total of 4.5 feet per second. Additionally, the attachment also draws the center of mass closer to the handle portion of the bat, and moves the center of percussion toward the distal or barrel end of the bat. The tests illustrate that bat performance characteristics of a bat, including, for example, BBS, center of mass, and center of percussion, can be adjusted by attaching the attachment to the knob of the bat.

[0042] Referring to FIGS. 4-8, in alternative preferred embodiments, the attachment can be formed in different configurations. Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the attachment 114 is formed without a shear pin and is formed in separate dimensions. The attachment 114 can be attached to the knob end of a bat in the same manner as the attachment 14 of FIGS. 1-3. Referring to FIG. 6, the attachment 214 is an annular member having a centrally positioned opening 216. The attachment 214 distributes the weight of the attachment to its periphery. The attachment 214 can be configured to add a minimal amount of length, or no extra length, to the bat when attached to the bat 10. FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an attachment 314 in two distinct sizes. The attachment 314 includes a centrally positioned channel 316 for receiving a fastener 318. The fastener 316 is a self-tapping screw that threads into the knob end surface of the knob at the aperture. Other types of fasteners can also be used, such as, for example, rivets, resilient plugs, an expandable-type fastener. Additionally, two or more fasteners can also be used.

[0043] Referring to FIG. 9, in another alternative preferred embodiment the attachment 414 includes a flange region 416 configured to resiliently engage the knob 24 of the bat 10. At least a portion of the attachment 414 is formed of a resilient material. In other alternative embodiments, the attachment can take other shapes, such as, for example, rectangular, polygonal or irregular.

[0044] While the preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described and illustrated, numerous departures therefrom can be contemplated by persons skilled in the art, for example, the attachment can be a multi-piece attachment. Therefore, the present invention is not limited to the foregoing description but only by the scope and spirit of the appended claims.