Title:
System for adapting a sports implement
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a sports implement for hitting a pitched object. The sports implement includes attachments for a contact end of the implement allowing variation of the weight and/or length of the sports implement.



Inventors:
Haynes, James M. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/122352
Publication Date:
09/15/2005
Filing Date:
05/05/2005
Assignee:
HAYNES JAMES M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B59/00; A63B59/06; (IPC1-7): A63B59/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REED SMITH LLP (Three Logan Square 1717 Arch Street Suite 3100, PHILADELPHIA, PA, 19103, US)
Claims:
1. A sports implement for hitting a pitched ball, said sports implement having a grip end and a contacting end and an axis extending between said grip end and said contacting end, said contacting end having a tip end located distally from said grip end, said sports implement further comprising: an engagement feature located on said contacting end; at least one weight, wherein said at least one weight engages said engagement feature; and a cap, wherein said cap is removably secured to said at least one weight.

2. A sports implement according to claim 1, wherein said engagement feature comprises a substantially cylindrical bore in said contacting end of said sports implement, said bore having an opening at said tip end and a sidewall extending for a depth into said sports implement, said bore having at least one retention channel formed in said sidewall, and wherein said at least one weight comprises a substantially cylindrical body and at least one retention pin extending from said body, said cylindrical body having an outer diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of the bore.

3. A sports implement according to claim 2, wherein said retention channel has an engaged end, said sports implement further comprising an elastic element, said elastic element biasing said retention pin to said engaged end of said retention channel when said at least one weight is engaged to said engagement feature.

4. A sports implement according to claim 3, wherein said at least one weight each being individually engageable with said engagement feature, said weights having varying masses.

5. A sports implement according to claim 1, wherein said engagement feature further comprises first engagement face, said at least one weight having a second attachment face, said first engagement face contacting said second engagement face when said at least one weight is engaged to said sports implement, said first and second engagement faces having serrated surfaces.

6. A sports implement according to claim 2, wherein said engagement feature comprises a bore in said contacting end of said sports implement, said bore having an opening at said tip end and a sidewall extending for a depth into said sports implement, said bore having a female thread formed along at least a portion of said sidewall, and wherein said at least one weight comprises a substantially cylindrical body, said cylindrical body having a male thread formed on at least a portion of said cylindrical body, said male thread engageable with said female thread.

7. A sports implement according to claim 2, wherein said engagement feature comprises a post extending from said tip end of said sports implement, said post having a substantially cylindrical shape, said post having at least one retention pin extending from a sidewall of said post, and wherein said at least on e weight comprises a bore, said bore having an opening, a diameter, and a long axis and a sidewall extending for a depth along said long axis into said at least one weight, said bore having at least one retention trough formed in said sidewall, wherein said post has an outer diameter slightly smaller than the diameter of the bore.

8. A sports implement for hitting a pitched object, said sports implement having a grip adjacent a first end, a barrel, and a barrel end located opposite said first end, said sports implement further comprising: a weight attaching means located adjacent said barrel end, said weight attaching means for selectively attaching a weight; at least one weight means, said weight means for adjusting the weight of the barrel of said sports implement, said weight means further being engageable in said weight attaching means; and a cap, wherein said cap is removably secured to said at least one weight means.

9. A sports implement for hitting a pitched object according to claim 8, wherein said weight attaching means further comprises an engagement biasing means.

10. A sports implement according to claim 9, wherein said biasing means comprises a spring located to exert force against said weight means when said weight means is engaged in said weight attaching means.

11. A sports implement according to claim 8, wherein said weight means further comprises an engagement biasing means.

12. A sports implement according to claim 11, wherein said engagement biasing means comprises a spring located to exert force against said sports implement when said weight means is engaged in said weight attaching means.

13. A sports implement for hitting a pitched object, said sports implement having a first end and a second end and a center axis extending from said first end to said second end, said sports implement further comprising: an attachment engagement for receiving an attachment located adjacent said first end; at least one attachment, said at least one attachment adapted to engage said attachment engagement; wherein said attachment engagement comprises a socket, said socket having a floor, a depth, an opening adjacent said first end, and at least one retention pin channel, said retention pin channel having at least a first leg and a second leg, said first leg extending from said opening adjacent said first end and extending for at least a portion of said depth, said second leg joining said first leg and forming an angle with said first leg, said second leg not extending to said opening, wherein said at least one attachment further comprises at least one retention pin, said retention pin having a length adapted to engage said retention pin channel; and a cap, wherein said cap is removably secured to said at least one attachment.

14. A sports implement according to claim 13, wherein said attachment engagement comprises a socket, said socket having a floor, a depth, an opening adjacent said first end, and at least one retention pin channel, said retention pin channel having at least a first leg and a second leg, said first leg extending from said opening adjacent said first end and extending for at least a portion of said depth, said second leg joining said first leg and forming an angle with said first leg, said second leg not extending to said opening, and wherein said at least one weight further comprises at least one retention pin, said retention pin having a length adapted to engage said retention pin trough.

15. A sports implement according to claim 14, wherein said attachment further comprises an elastic element, said elastic element contacting said floor when said attachment is engaged in said attachment engagement.

16. A sports implement according to claim 15, wherein said elastic element is a spring.

17. A sports implement according to claim 14, wherein said attachment engagement further comprises an elastic element attached to said floor, said elastic element engaging said at least one attachment when said at least one attachment is engaged in said attachment engagement.

18. A sports implement according to claim 17, wherein said elastic element comprises a spring.

19. A sports implement according to claim 13, wherein said attachment engagement comprises at least one female thread, and said at least one attachment comprises at least one male thread, said at least one attachment being threadably engageable into said attachment engagement.

20. A sports implement according to claim 19, wherein said attachment engagement further comprises an elastic element, said elastic element engaging said at least one attachment when said at least one attachment is threadedly engaged in said attachment engagement.

21. A sports implement according to claim 19, wherein said at least one attachment further comprises an elastic element, said elastic element engaging said floor when said at least one attachment is threadedly engaged in said attachment engagement.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/229,875, filed Aug. 28, 2002 and entitled ‘System For Adapting A Sports Implement’, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein as if being set forth in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pertains to adjusting the weight of a sports implement, and more particularly to adjusting the weight of the barrel end of a baseball bat to allow the weight to be tailored to an individual batter.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The size, weight, and shape of a baseball bat effects the kinematics of the swing of the baseball bat by a batter. The weight of the barrel end affects the ability of the batter to swing the bat rapidly enough to meet a pitched ball. A heavier barrel end requires greater strength to achieve the same barrel speed as a lighter barrel end. A heavier barrel end, however, carries greater momentum when a pitched baseball is struck. In addition to the weight of the barrel end of the bat, the length of the bat also affects the ability of a batter to both control the swing, as well as generate an effective barrel velocity at impact with a pitched ball.

Typical baseball bats are formed from a substantially homogenous material, such as wood or aluminum. Some bats are formed from multiple materials, such as using a fiberglass handle with an aluminum head. Notwithstanding, these bats are formed with a fixed weight of the barrel end, fixed length, and fixed grip size.

In addition to affecting the swing of the bat at a pitched ball, it is typical for a batter to desire a heavier barrel end of the bat for practice swings, to both build up and stretch the muscles used for swinging the bat. To this end, doughnuts may be provided. Doughnuts are toroidal shaped weights that may be placed around the barrel end of the bat to add weight to the barrel. The use of a doughnut precludes the ability of the batter to actually hit a ball when the doughnut is on the bat, since the doughnut does not provide a uniform hitting surface.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a sports implement for hitting a pitched ball or the like. The contact end of the sports implement is adapted to allow the selective engagement of varying weights or contact extensions, hereinafter further referred to collectively as attachments, to the sports implement, allowing weight and/or length parameters of the sports implement to be varied as desired for individual users of the sports implement, or as desired at various times by an individual user.

The barrel end of the sports implement may be provided with a system for allowing weights in the barrel end of a baseball bat to be easily substituted to allow varying the barrel weight of a bat, without varying the hitting surface of the bat. Such a system may include weights having a smaller diameter than the contact surface of the sports implement, such that the weights nested within the end of the sports implement.

The attachment could also have an outer size and shape consistent with the sports implement, allowing the attachment to form a portion of the contact surface of the sports implement.

The attachment may be engaged to the sports implement by any method however the use of a threaded joint as a bayonet joint allows rapid engagement and removal of an attachment from the sports implement.

Biasing means may be provided to ensure that an attachment engaged to a sports implement remains engaged until such time as a user decides to remove the attachment. The biasing means may include an elastic element urging portion of the attachment and the sports implement into contact, or creating a friction or other retaining force to maintain engagement of the attachment to the sports implement.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Understanding of the present invention will be facilitated by consideration of the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like numerals refer to like parts:

FIG. 1 illustrates a sports implement having a female socket receptacle for engaging a weight to the end of a sports implement;

FIG. 2 illustrates a weight for a sports implement where the weight nests in the end of the sports implement without forming a portion of the contact surface of the sports implement:

FIG. 3 illustrates a sports implement having a female socket formed within a weight for engaging a post on the end of a sports implement;

FIG. 4 illustrates a sports implement having a male post with retention pins nested within an end of a sports implement;

FIG. 5 illustrates a sports implement having a threaded socket on the end of the sports implement for receiving a male threaded post formed on a weight;

FIG. 6 illustrates the use of a pair of friction rings on the joint surfaces between an attachment and a sports implement, with the sports implement shown in cross section and the attachment shown in profile;

FIG. 7 illustrates the use of serrated surface features on the engagement faces between a weight and a sports implement; and

FIG. 8 illustrates an intermediate engagement device formed to allow the engagement features to be added to an attachment or sports implement rather than formed integrally with the attachment or sports implement.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

It is to be understood that the figures and descriptions of the present invention have been simplified to illustrate elements that are relevant for a clear understanding of the present invention, while eliminating, for the purpose of clarity, many other elements found in sporting implement systems and devices. Those of ordinary skill in the art may recognize that other elements and/or steps are desirable and/or required in implementing the present invention. However, because such elements and steps are well known in the art, and because they do not facilitate a better understanding of the present invention, a discussion of such elements and steps is not provided herein. The disclosure herein is directed to all such variations and modifications to such elements and methods known to those skilled in the art.

In FIG. 1, wherein like numbers represent like elements, there is shown a sports implement 2 in the form of a baseball bat 4. The sports implement may have a grip end 6 and a contact end 8. A weight 10 or other attachment may be provided with a method for engaging the weight to the contact end of the sports implement. In the configuration shown in FIG. 1, the method for engaging comprises a receptacle 12 formed in the tip end 14 of the sports implement. The receptacle may be a bore 16 drilled into the end of the sports implement, allowing a cylindrical portion 18 of the weight 10 to be engaged within the bore 16. A retention pin 20 or pins may be provided on the sidewall 22 of the cylindrical portion 18. A retention channel 24 may be provided on a sidewall 26 of the bore 16. The retention channel 24 may have a first leg 28 and a second leg 30, and a portion 32 connecting the first leg 28 and the second leg 30. The first leg may extend to an opening 34 in the end of the bore 16, allowing a retention pin 20 to slide into the retention channel 24 when the cylindrical portion of the weight is engaged into the bore. An elastic element 38 such as a spring may be provided at the bottom of the bore to resist engagement of the cylindrical portion of the weight into the bore. The second leg 30 of the retention channel may be parallel to the first leg 28, without extending to the opening 34, such that the cylindrical portion of the weight and the retention pin may be forced into the bore, and then twisted to move the retention pin 20 into the second leg 30. Alternatively, the second leg 30 may be orthogonal to the long axis of the sports implement, such that when the retention pins are in the second leg, such that the engagement faces (26, 28) remain in tight contact. The elastic element may then force the retention pin against the end of the second leg. As shown in FIG. 2, the weight may be formed such that it does not form a contact surface on the sports implement.

As shown in FIG. 3, the bore 32 may be formed into the attachment, shown as a barrel extension 34, with a cylindrical post section 36 extending from the sports implement 2. An elastic element 38 may be provided around the periphery of the engagement end of the sports implement to both provide a biasing function for engagement of the retention pin 40 into the retention channel 42, as well as to provide a smooth exterior contact surface 44.

As shown in FIG. 4, the attachment may be selected so as to have an outer diameter greater than the diameter of a pocket 402 on the end of the sports implement 2. A post having retention pins 406 may be located in the pocket 402, such that engagement of an attachment within the pocket 402 allows the attachment to nest within the end of the sports implement 2. Alternately, the post 404 may be formed with male threads (not shown) on the exterior of the post, allowing an attachment having female threads to be threadedly engaged to the post 404. A retention feature, such as a friction ring elastic element, or other device as described in this specification may be provided to ensure retention of the attachment onto the end of the sports implement.

As shown in FIG. 5, the attachment 500 may be joined to the sports implement using a threaded connection 502. The attachment 500 may form a portion of the contact surface 504 of the sports implement 2, such that varying the length of the attachment 500 allows variation of the length of the sports implement 2, as well as variation of the area of the contact surface 504 of the sports implement. A bore 506 may be drilled and tapped with female threads 508 in the end of the sports implement 2. A retention ring 510, such as a rubber gasket, may be provided adjacent to the periphery of a contact face to provide sufficient friction between the attachment 500 and the sports implement 2 to prevent the attachment 500 from rotating and loosening the threaded connection in an undesired fashion. The attachment 500 may be provided with surface features 512 such as grooves or knurling (not shown) to allow a stronger grip on the attachment when attaching or detaching the attachment 500 from the sports implement 2.

As shown in FIG. 6, when a bayonet fitting (retention pin and retention channel) is used for the connection between the attachment 600 and the sports implement 2, care must be shown with regard to the design of the retention channel 602. The retention pins 604 will exert a force against the retention channel 602 in an amount related to the mass of the weight and the speed and acceleration of the attachment 600. Thus, the retention pins 604 must be of sufficient size and strength to prevent failure of the pins 604, which could result in an undesired separation of the attachment 600 from the sports implement 2.

Furthermore, the design of the retention channel 602 must address the force generated by the acceleration of the weight on the end of the bat, which may tend to force the attachment 600 away from the sports implement 2, creating a gap between the attachment 600 and the sports implement 2 where the attachment 600 is used to form a portion of the contact surface 606 of the sports implement 2. The use of an L-shaped retention channel 608 allows the attachment to be snugly mounted against the sports implement 2, but may not provide a positive detent to ensure retention of the attachment 600 to the sports implement 2. A friction ring 610, such as a thin rubber washer or a pair of rubber washers may be added to the end surfaces 612, 614 of the attachment 600 and/or sports implement 2 to improve the retention of the attachment 600 to the sports implement 2. Alternately, serrated surface features 700, such as shown in FIG. 7, may be implemented to provide a positive detent where the retention channel 702 is not shaped to provide such a detent. A serrated surface feature 704, 706 formed from an elastic material, such as a spring steel, rubber, or other elastomer, may be provided on contact faces on the attachment 700 and sports implement 2. Engagement of the serrated surface features may require the two serrated surfaces to deform to allow rotation of the retention pins into the lateral legs of the retention channel, such that the contact between the serrated surfaces provides an anti-rotation force when the attached 700 is engaged to sports implement 2. Proper design of the serrated surface features allows a tight joint to be accomplished, allowing the weight to form a portion of the contact surface without an undesirable gap being present between the attachment and the sports implement 2. The serrations may be saw tooth or wave shaped.

Although the engagement means has heretofore been illustrated as integral to the sports implement or to the attachment, the engagement means may be also formed through fabrication of an intermediary engagement device formed to be joined to the sports implement or to an attachment. As shown in FIG. 8, a male engagement device 802 may be provided with male threads 804 at one end and retention pins 806 at an opposite end. An attachment 800 may thus be formed with a bore 808 which is internally threaded 810 to receive the male engagement device 802. This allows simpler forming tasks to be required to adapt the end of the sports implement 2 for engagement to an attachment 800. Also, a female engagement device 810 may be formed having external threads 812, and a central bore 814 having a retention through 816 and biasing element 818, such as a spring. A sports implement 2 may thus be adapted for receiving the female engagement device 810 by drilling and threading 820 a bore in the engagement face 822 of the sports implement. The use of intermediate engagement devices 802, 810 may allow the implementation of attachments according to the present invention to sports implements which were previously manufactured, by allowing basic machining (drilling and threading) to be used to adapt the sports implement and/or attachment for implementation of attachments according to the present invention.

As is apparent from the above description, the benefits of the present invention are not limited to baseball bats, but extend to other sports implements used to impact thrown or flying objects, such as, but not limited to, softball bats or cricket bats.

Those of ordinary skill in the art may recognize that many modifications and variations of the present invention may be implemented without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention provided they come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.