United States Patent 3774584

A pair of spaced, resiliently tired wheels are mounted on a base for axial rotation in a common plane, the spacing between the wheels being less than the diameter of a ball to be thrown and the rotational speed of each wheel being adjustable independently of the other. The base is supported above a ball and socket universal mounting, whereby to afford angular adjustment of said rotational plane in all directions about a common pivot point. The base member is locked in a desired position by the operation of a manual control device that operates to bring the base member against the ball of the ball and socket joint. Electrical controls are present to control the speed of rotation of the coacting wheels. These adjustments of relative rotational speeds and plane of rotation of the wheels afford wide variations in the direction, type, velocity and curvature of a ball ejected from between the wheels.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
International Classes:
A63B69/40; (IPC1-7): F41B3/00
Field of Search:
124/1,50,29 273
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
1502365Game of skill1924-07-22Wilson

Primary Examiner:
Pinkham, Richard C.
Assistant Examiner:
Browne, William R.
Having now described my invention and the manner in which it may be used, I claim

1. A ball throwing device, comprising:

2. a plate member engaging said ball at points spaced from the largest diameter of said ball and on the ball surface opposite the surface engaged by said socket,

3. a manual control member, and

4. connector means coacting with said control member for adjustably interconnecting said plate member and the one of said base member and base support carrying the socket, and said connector means being operable by the control member to move the plate member toward and away from the socket to lockably release said handle and base member with respect to said base support.

5. The ball throwing device of claim 1 wherein the ball is on the base support, the socket is carried by the base member, and the clamp plate member has an opening therethrough of smaller diameter than the ball, the control member interengaging the plate and base member for releasably clamping them to the ball. 3. The ball throwing device of claim 1 includes wheel drive motors of the variable speed electric type, and electric control means is associated with each motor for varying the speed thereof independently of the other motor.


This invention relates to devices for throwing baseballs, tennis balls and the like, and more particularly to a simplified device for throwing a wide variety of types of baseball pitches.

Ball throwing devices have been utilized heretofore. For example, they have been used by tennis players to enable practice without the necessity of another player. They have also been used by baseball players for batting practice to avoid overworking the arms of pitchers.

However, baseball throwing devices provided heretofore are characterized by a number of disadvantages and limitations. They are difficult to adjust for various types, speeds and directions of pitches and are incapable of inaccurately reproducing a selected pitch. They provide only a limited number of types of pitches and thus fail adequately to provide a user the total practice necessary to prepare for all types of pitches encountered in actual play.

Moreover, they are bulky and heavy and thus are difficult and cumbersome to transport to and from a site of operation. And they are of costly construction and therefore not available to small schools, clubs, leagues and the like.


In its basic concept, the apparatus of this invention utilizes a pair of ball-ejecting wheels rotatable at selected speeds in a common plane which is adjustable in all directions above a common pivot point.

It is by virtue of the foregoing basic concept that the principal objective of this invention is achieved; namely, to overcome the aforementioned disadvantages and limitations of prior ball throwing devices.

Another important object of this invention is the provision of ball throwing apparatus which is usable for all types of practice, for example the serving of all types and speeds of tennis deliveries and the throwing of all types of baseball pitches for batting practice, and the throwing of ground balls, line drives and fly balls to the infield and outfield.

Still another important object of this invention is the provision of ball throwing apparatus which is adjustable for all types of pitches and throws by the manipulation of but a single control.

A further important object of this invention is to provide ball throwing apparatus which is compact in size and light in weight, whereby to enable its storage in an automobile trunk and to facilitate its transport to and from a site of operation.

A still further important object of this invention is the provision of ball throwing apparatus which is of simplified construction for economical manufacture.

The foregoing and other objects and advantages of this invention will appear from the following detailed description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawing of a preferred embodiment.


FIG. 1 is a plan view of ball throwing apparatus embodying the features of this invention, the right hand wheel being shown in broken lines in order to disclose details of construction of underlying components.

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary view in rear elevation as viewed from the bottom in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary view in side elevation as viewed from the right in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary vertical section taken on the line 4--4 in FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary sectional view taken on the line 5--5 in FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view in front elevation, as viewed from the top in FIG. 1, showing the wheel assembly in full lines and in broken lines in selected positions of adjustment for throwing differently curved baseball pitches.

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary view in side elevation, similar to FIG. 3, showing the wheel assembly adjusted in full lines for throwing fly balls and in broken lines for throwing ground balls.


The ball throwing apparatus of this invention includes a base member 10, preferably in the form of a metal casting, for mounting a pair of spaced, rotary ball-ejecting wheels 12 and 14. To this end, the base member is provided with laterally spaced flanges 16 arranged, as by means of bolts 18, to removably mount drive motors 20 and 22. The rotary output shafts of the motors mount the wheels for rotation in opposite directions, as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 1, and in a substantially common plane 24. The spacing between the confronting surfaces of the wheels is slightly less than the diameter of a ball B (FIG. 4) to be thrown. Accordingly, the ball is gripped between the rotating wheels and ejected forwardly therefrom, as explained hereinafter.

The drive motors may be of the fluid pressure type or, preferably, of the electric type illustrated. Further, the motors preferably are of the variable speed type in order to adjust the rotational speed of each wheel independently of the other.

Means may be provided for guiding a ball into the space between the rotating wheels. Although automatic feed means may be utilized for feeding balls on a timed schedule, in the embodiment illustrated manual means is provided by an elongated guide block 26 which extends longitudinally between the wheels and is anchored to the longitudinally raised central portion 10' of the base member 10 by such means as screws 28. An inclined, transversely arcuate ball feed chute 30 is secured to the rearward end of the block, as by screws 32, or it may be formed integral with the block, as will be understood. Thus, a ball may be deposited in the upper end of the chute, whereupon it gravitates downward and onto the upper surface of the guide block for delivery between the wheels.

Universal mounting means is provided for supporting the base member 10 and wheels for pivotal adjustment in all directions about a common pivot point spaced from the rotational plane 24 of the wheels. In the embodiment illustrated, the base member is provided with an opening 34 in the form of a spherial segment. This opening functions as the socket component of a ball and socket unit, and therefore has a diameter less than that of the ball component 36.

The ball component 36 of the unit is mounted on a base support which includes a body member 38 anchoring the upper ends of the plurality of downwardly diverging leg members 40. In the embodiment illustrated the ball component and body member are formed as an integral unit, although it will be understood that they may be separate units secured together by any conventional means. Members 38, 40, 68, 72, 76, comprise the base support.

Means is provided for manually pivoting the base member and supported wheels relative to the ball 36. This means is provided in the embodiment illustrated by a T-shaped handle, the cross member 42 of which provides hand grips and the longitudinal leg 44 of which is secured to the base member. In the embodiment illustrated, this attachment is made by providing the confronting surfaces of rearward portions of the central raised portion 10' of the base member and block 26 with registering semi-circular grooves. These registering grooves thus form an elongated cylindrical socket for the removable reception of the leg 44. The leg also is provided with transverse openings for the receiption therethrough of the attaching screws 28, whereby to restrain the handle against rotation relative to the base member.

Means also is provided for securing the ball 36 and socket 34 components in selected postions of adjustment. To this end a clamping plate 46 is provided with an opening 48 in the form of a spherical segment having a diameter less than the diameter of the ball. The plate is provided with a longitudinal slot 50 extending forwardly from the opening 48 and dimensioned to receive freely therethrough the upper reduced portion of the body 38, for removable registration of the socket with the ball. The forwardly projecting portions of the plate, separated by the slot 50, are connected in vertically spaced relation to the forward end of the base member 10, as by means of bolts 52. These bolts also pass through openings in a transversely arranged connecting plate 54 which spans the forward slot 50 removably to prevent spreading of the forwardly spaced portions of the plate and hence enlargement of the socket 48.

Adjacent the rearward end of the plate 46 is an upstanding threaded screw 56 which extends freely through an opening in the central leg 44 of the T-handle. An internally threaded control knob 58 is threaded onto the projecting upper end of the screw and its lower end bears against the handle leg. Accordingly, by appropriate hand rotation of the control knob the clamping plate 46 is moved closer to or farther from the base member 10, whereby to clamp the ball 36 releasably between the base member and clamping plate. Thus, by loosening the control knob 58 the base member and hence the rotational plane 24 of the wheels may be pivoted about the center of the ball 36 in all angular directions.

The rearward end of the clamping plate 46 is provided with a downwardly offset section 46' which forms a mounting base for a control housing 60. This housing contains a pair of electrical controls one associated with each of the electric motors 20, 22 and operable to vary the speed of the latter. A control knob 62 is provided for each control, as will be understood.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated, the body member 38 of the base support is provided with a cnetral cavity 64, the defining peripheral wall of which converges upwardly from the bottom of the body. At circumferentially spaced positions around the cavity, there are a plurality of substantially semi-circular socket sections 66 which open into the cavity. In the embodiment illustrated, there are three such socket sections arranged at 120° intervals. A clamping plug 68, in the cross sectional form of a truncated cone, is dimensioned slightly smaller than but matching the shape of the cavity for free reception therein. The periphery of the plug is provided with substantially semi-circular socket sections 70 opening onto the periphery thereof and arranged to register with the semi-circular socket sections 66 in the body, to provide a plurality of circumferentially spaced circular sockets each adapted to receive freely therein the upper end of one of the leg members 40.

Projecting inward from each semi-circular socket section 66 in the body are two sets of longitudinally spaced pairs of lugs 72 spaced apart circumferentially of and projecting inward from the socket section. A similar lug 74 projects inwardly from each semi-circular socket section 70 in the plug 68, intermediate the spaced pairs of lugs 72. These lugs 72 and 74 engage the leg member 40 at longitudinally and circumferentially spaced points to provide maximum stability for the latter.

A central longitudinal opening through the plug 68 registers with a threaded opening in the body 38 and removably receives the clamping bolt 76. By tightening the clamping bolt into the threaded bore, the plug is drawn into the cavity, thereby reducing the diameter of the sockets formed by the sections 66 and 70 and securing the leg members 40 firmly therein.

It will be understood that the number of leg members 40 and corresponding socket sections 66 and 70 in the body and plug, respectively, may be varied as desired. The tripod arrangement illustrated is preferred for its adjustability to various ground contours while providing maximum stability for the supported components of the apparatus.

By virtue of the universal mounting of the wheels, as described hereinbefore, the rotational plane 24 of the latter may be adjusted infinitely through a large range of diverse angles. These adjustments, together with adjustments in relative rotational speeds of the wheels, provides a wide range of types, directions and speeds of throws and pitches. For example, referring to FIG. 6 of the drawing, the rotational plane 24 of the wheels is shown inclining upward toward the right as viewed, for example, by a batter during batting practice. By rotating the upper wheel 12 faster than the lower wheel 14, a baseball pitched from between the wheels takes the same curved trajectory as a left handed overhaul curve thrown by a pitcher. When the plane of rotation of the wheels is adjusted to the broken line position of FIG. 6 and the upper wheel 14 rotated faster than the lower wheel 12, the pitched ball takes the same trajectory as a right handed overhand curve delivered by a pitcher.

With the rotational plane of the wheels tilted in the manner illustrated in full and broken lines in FIG. 6 and with both wheels rotating at the same speed, the degree of curvature of the pitch is reduced, both horizontally and vertically. By rotating the lower wheel faster than the upper wheel, in either of the tilted positions illustrated in FIG. 6, the trajectory of the pitch is both horizontal and upward.

When the plane 24 of rotation of the wheels is adjusted to a horizontal plane, intermediate the positions illustrated in FIG. 6, and one of the wheels is rotated faster than the other, the curve has a lesser degree of vertical component. With the rotational plane of the wheels disposed horizontally and with one of the wheels rotating only slightly faster than the other, a substantially straight fast ball will be delivered to the batter. The speed of the pitch may be varied by increasing or decreasing the rotational speed of the wheels, as will be understood. When both wheels are rotated at exactly the same speed, the pitch is a knuckler.

It is to be noted from FIG. 6 that the plane 24 of rotation of the wheels is spaced radially upward from the center of the ball 36. Accordingly, the tilting of the wheels relative to the ball 36 results in corresponding lateral movement of the longitudinal line of delivery of a ball B from between the wheels. Thus, the point of delivery of the ball may be varied laterally relative to the pitching mound. These variations, as viewed from the position of the batter, contribute to the enlargement of the range of practice for the batter.

Referring now to FIG. 7 of the drawing, when the rotational plane 24 of the wheels is inclined in the forward direction as indicated by broken line 78, the apparatus may be utilized to throw fly balls to the infield or outfield along any desired trajectory. When the rotational plane of the wheels is declined in the forward direction, as indicated by the broken line 80, the apparatus may be used to throw ground balls to the infield and outfield.

It is to be noted that all of the foregoing adjustments, providing the wide diversification of pitches and throws, are accomplished through the simple expediency of a single direction control knob 58 and a pair of speed control knobs 62. This contributes materially to the versatility of the apparatus since it accommodates changes in adjustments with speed and precision.

The simplified construction described hereinbefore also facilitates transport of the apparatus to and from an operating site. In this regard the apparatus may be tipped to one side, with the wheels resting on the ground and the handle extending upward. In this position the apparatus may be rolled from a site of the operation to an automobile. Then, by simply loosening the single clamping bolt 76, to loosen the plug 68, the leg members 40 may be removed quickly from the body 38. The remaining assembly is of sufficiently light weight that it may be lifted by one person and deposited in the trunk of the automobile, together with the leg members 40.

From the foregoing it will be appreciated that the present invention provides a ball throwing apparatus which is of simplified construction for economical manufacture, which provides for a wide range of types, directions and speeds of pitches and throws with a minimum of component adjustment, and which is easily portable.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes may be made in the size, shape, type, number and arrangement of parts described hereinbefore without departing from the spirit of this invention.