Title:
Baseball tee
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baseball tee may include a wrapped ball holder secured to a top end of a slip tube. The bottom end of the slip tube may fit into the top end of a compression nut. The bottom end of the compression nut may be secured to a top of a vertical stem whose bottom end may be secured to a base. The compression nut may compress a gripper ring against the slip tube such that the slip tube may slide up and down with respect to the vertical stem while a force is applied to the slip tube, but otherwise the slip tube stays in place with respect to the vertical stem. The height of the ball holder with respect to the base may thus be adjusted. The top end of the slip tube may be rounded to protect the ball holder as it is struck and forced against the top end of the slip tube. The bottom end of the vertical stem may be secured to the base off center.



Inventors:
Newman, Todd H. (Alpine, UT, US)
Application Number:
10/897136
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
07/22/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KEN HORTON (SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US)
Claims:
1. A baseball tee comprising: a slip tube comprising a ball holder; a vertical stem; a compression nut comprising a first opening and a second opening, wherein said slip tube slideably engages said compression nut through said first opening, and said vertical stem is secured to said compression nut through said second opening; and a gripper ring disposed within said compression nut, wherein said compression nut compresses said gripper ring against said slip tube.

2. The baseball tee of claim 1, wherein said gripper ring comprises concave teeth for engaging said slip tube.

3. The baseball tee of claim 2, further comprising a compression bushing disposed between said gripper ring and said compression nut, and wherein said gripper ring fits on said bushing and said concave teeth extend into an opening in said bushing.

4. The baseball tee of claim 3, wherein: said second opening threads onto said vertical stem, and threading said compression nut with respect to said vertical stem adjusts a compression force applied to said gripper ring.

5. The baseball tee of claim 2, wherein: said second opening threads onto said vertical stem, and threading said compression nut with respect to said vertical stem adjusts a compression force applied to said gripper ring.

6. The baseball tee of claim 5, wherein said compression force may be adjusted to allow said slip tube to slide with respect to said vertical stem while a force of at least a particular level is applied to said slip tube but hold said slip tube in place with respect to said vertical stem in the absence of said force.

7. The baseball tee of claim 1, wherein said ball holder is secured to an end of said slip tube, and said end of said slip tube is rounded.

8. The baseball tee of claim 1 further comprising a base, and wherein said vertical stem is secured to said base away from a center of said base.

9. The baseball tee of claim 8, wherein said vertical stem is secured to said base in front of a horizontal center axis of said base, wherein a ball disposed on said ball holder is struck from a direction behind said horizontal center axis.

10. A baseball tee comprising: a slip tube comprising a rounded bulb at one end, wherein a diameter of said bulb is greater than a cross-sectional diameter of said slip tube; and a ball holder comprising a wrapped flexible sheet, wherein said ball holder is secured to said slip tube and wraps around said bulb.

11. The baseball tee of claim 10, wherein said bulb is integrally formed with said slip tube.

12. The baseball tee of claim 10, wherein said bulb is secured to said slip tube, but said bulb is structurally distinct from said slip tube.

13. A baseball tee comprising: a base; a vertical structure secured at a first end to said base; and a ball holder secured to a second end of said vertical structure, wherein said vertical structure is secured to said base away from a center of said base.

14. The baseball tee of claim 13, wherein said vertical structure is secured to said base in front of a horizontal center axis of said base, wherein a ball disposed on said ball holder is struck from a direction behind said horizontal center axis.

15. The baseball tee of claim 13, wherein said vertical structure comprises a slip tube that is slideably secured to said vertical stem.

16. A baseball tee comprising: a base; a rigid vertical stem secured at a first end to said base; and a flexible tube, a first end of said flexible tube secured to a second end of said rigid vertical stem; and a ball holder secured to a second end of said flexible tube.

17. The baseball tee of claim 15, wherein said rigid vertical stem comprises metal, and said flexible tube comprises plastic.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Baseball tees have long been used to support a baseball while a batter swings a bat at the ball. Such baseball tees have traditionally comprised a base, vertical tubing secured at one end to a base, and ball holder at the other end of the vertical tubing. Baseball tees have been particularly useful for batting practice.

BRIEF SUMMARY

This invention relates to baseball tees. In a preferred embodiment, a baseball tee includes a wrapped ball holder secured to a top end of a slip tube. The bottom end of the slip tube fits into the top end of a compression nut. The bottom end of the compression nut is secured to a top of a vertical stem whose bottom end is secured to a base. The compression nut compresses a gripper ring against the slip tube such that the slip tube may slide up and down with respect to the vertical stem while a force is applied to the slip tube, but otherwise the slip tube stays in place with respect to the vertical stem. The top end of the slip tube may be rounded to protect the ball holder as it is struck and forced against the top end of the slip tube. The bottom end of the vertical stem may be secured to the base off center.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a baseball tee.

FIG. 2 illustrates the pattern of a sheet from which the ball holder of FIG. 1 may be made.

FIG. 3 illustrates the ball holder and slip tube of the baseball tee of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 illustrates the slip tube, compression nut, and vertical stem of the baseball tee of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 illustrates the slip tube, gripper ring, and compression bushing of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 illustrates the base of the baseball tee of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Although this specification describes exemplary embodiments and applications of the invention, the invention is not limited to these exemplary embodiments and applications or to the manner in which the exemplary embodiments and applications operate or are described herein.

FIG. 1 illustrates a tee 100 for supporting a ball (e.g., a baseball). The tee 100 may be used to support a ball (not shown) while a batter strikes the ball with a bat (not shown). The tee 100 includes a ball holder 102, which may be made of a sheet of flexible material that is rolled into the general form of a cone to form a cup 101 for supporting the ball (not shown). The sheet may be made of any of a variety of materials, may be any of a variety of sizes, and may be cut into any of a variety of shapes. For example, the sheet may be a rubber sheet, the sheet may be approximately 1/16 of an inch in thickness, and the sheet may be cut into the shape 352 shown in FIG. 2. The foregoing are exemplary only, however, and other materials, thicknesses, and shapes may be used. With missing corner 356, the sheet shown in FIG. 2 is preferably rolled from side 354.

As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3, a bottom portion 105 of the ball holder 102 is fitted over and secured to a top portion 202 of a slip tube 106. As shown in FIG. 3 and as will be discussed below, the top portion of 202 of the slip tube 106 may be rounded (e.g., spherical). The ball holder 102 may be secured to the slip tube 106 by a fastening member 104, which may be any device suitable for securing the ball holder 102 to the slip tube 106. For example, the fastening member 104 may be a twisted wire, elastic band, etc. An adhesive (e.g., tape, glue, etc.) (not shown) may alternatively or additionally be used to secure the ball holder 102 to the slip tube 106.

As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 4, a bottom portion 204 of the slip tube 106 fits into a top opening 302 of a compression nut 108. As also shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 4, and as will be described in more detail below, the bottom portion 204 of the slip tube 106 also fits into one or more compression devices (e.g., 306 and 308 in FIG. 4), which hold the slip tube 106 in place with respect to a vertical stem 110 while allowing the slip tube 106 to slide up and down when a sufficient force is applied to the slip tube 106. A bottom opening 304 in the compression nut 108 fits over a top portion 310 of the vertical stem 110. As shown in FIG. 4, the top portion 310 of the vertical stem 110 may be threaded, and the inside of the bottom portion 304 of the compression nut 108 may have matching threads. Thus, the compression nut 108 may be secured to the vertical stem 110 by threading. Alternatively, the compression nut 108 may simply slide onto the top portion 310 (which need not be threaded) of the vertical stem 110 and be held in place by gravity and/or a friction fit or other securing mechanisms.

As shown in FIG. 5, an inner portion of the gripper ring 306 includes concave teeth 307. As the compression nut 108 is fit over (e.g., threaded onto), the top portion 310 of the vertical stem 110, the compression nut 108 compresses a compression bushing 308, which compresses the teeth 307 of the gripper ring 306 against the side 502 of the slip tube 106. (The gripper ring and compression bushing may be made of any durable material, including without limitation metal, stainless steel, nylon, plastic, etc.) As mentioned above, the gripper ring 306 thus holds the slip tube 106 in place with respect to the vertical stem 110 while allowing the slip tube 106 to slide up and down when a sufficient force is applied to the slip tube 106. Thus, a user may grasp the slip tube 106 and move it up or down with respect to the vertical stem 110, but once the user stops applying pressure to the slip tube 106, the slip tube 106 will stay in place with respect to the vertical stem 110. The position of the top 101 of the ball holder 102 may thus be adjusted with respect to the base 112, allowing a user to adjust the height of a ball (not shown).

Referring again to FIG. 1, the vertical stem 110 is secured to a base 112, which may be made from any durable material (e.g., wood, metal, plastic, polyprophylene, etc.). The vertical stem 110 may be secured to the base 112 in any suitable way. For example, a threaded bolt (not shown) may extend through the base into a correspondingly threaded opening (not shown) in the bottom of the vertical stem 110. As another example, the bottom of the vertical stem 110 may thread into corresponding threads in or secured to the base 112. The base 112 is placed on the ground or floor.

The slip tube 106, the compression nut 108, and the vertical stem 110 may be generally tube shaped. Preferably, all three members are made of a durable material. For example, the slip tube 106, the compression nut 108, and/or the vertical stem 110 may be made of a durable plastic or steel and may optionally be covered with a protective covering (e.g., polyolefin).

As shown in FIG. 3, the top portion 202 of the slip tube 106 is preferably rounded. If the ball holder 102 is struck (e.g., 210), the ball holder 102 tends to rotate about the top portion 202 of the slip tube 106. Because the top portion 202 is rounded, little to no damage is done to the ball holder 102 as it rotates about and impacts the top portion 202 of the slip tube 106. Optionally, and as shown in FIG. 3, the top portion 202 may have a diameter that is greater than a diameter of the slip tube 106, which may facilitate securing the ball holder 102 to the slip tube 106. The top portion 202 may be formed integrally with the slip tube 106 or may be formed separately and attached to the slip tube 106. For example, the top portion 202 may be heat molded to the slip tube 106. Alternatively, the top portion 202 of slip tube 106 may be molded on a rounded molding piece, which may be left in place to form part of the top portion 202.

As shown in FIG. 6, the vertical stem 110 is preferably secured to the base 112 away from the center 406 of the base 112. (In FIG. 6, the center 406 is defined by horizontal center axis 404 and vertical center axis 402, where horizontal and vertical are relative directions with respect to the swing path 408 of a bat.) This improves the stability of the tee 100, and in particular, reduces the likelihood that the tee 100 will tip over even if the ball holder 102 is struck. Although the location of the vertical stem 110 with respect to the base 112 is shown in FIG. 6 as being along the vertical center axis 402 above the horizontal vertical axis 404, the off-center location may be anywhere on the base 112. Moreover, the vertical stem 110 may alternatively be located at the center 406 of the base 112.

Although exemplary embodiments and applications of the invention have been described herein, there is no intention that the invention be limited to these exemplary embodiments and applications or to the manner in which the exemplary embodiments and applications operate or are described herein. Rather, many variations and modifications to the exemplary embodiments are possible.