Title:
Receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus for a baseball throwing machine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An electrically actuated, adjustable oscillator 12 is provided with a mount 18 for receiving a baseball throwing machine 10. An upstanding and outspread baseball-receiving net 14 is disposed above the throwing machine 10. A feed assembly 16 extends between the net 14 and the throwing machine 10. The oscillator 12 comprises, for example, a support housing 22, an electrically actuated motor 24, a gear box 26, and a manually adjustable rotation-to-oscillation converter assembly 27. The baseball receiving net 14 comprises, for example, an arched frame 38, a net or web 40 supported by the frame 38, and a circular basin 42 to which lower ends of the net 40 are attached. The feed assembly 16 comprises, for example, an upper, generally vertical cage 46 mounted around a central opening 47 in the basin 42 and a curved guide member 48 extending from a lower end of the cage 46 to the throwing machine 10.



Inventors:
Haas, Randy (Pleasant Plain, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/241828
Publication Date:
04/06/2006
Filing Date:
10/01/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41B4/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RICCI, JOHN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WM. CATES RAMBO (CINCINNATI, OH, US)
Claims:
1. Receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus adapted for use on a baseball throwing machine, said receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus comprising: a) an electrically actuated, adjustable oscillator provided with a mount for receiving the baseball throwing machine; b) a upstanding and outspread baseball-receiving net including a frame for mounting said net in an upstanding and outspread position above the throwing machine; and c) a feed assembly extending between the baseball-receiving net and the throwing machine.

2. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 1, wherein, the baseball throwing machine mount on the oscillator is an elongated shaft pivotable through an arc of adjustable magnitude.

3. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the oscillator comprises a support housing, an electrically actuated motor, a gear box, and a manually adjustable rotation-to-oscillation converter assembly.

4. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the mount for receiving the baseball throwing machine is pivotally mounted in the housing.

5. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the manually adjustable rotation-to-oscillation converter assembly comprises an angle adjustment plate, a control arm on the baseball throwing machine mount and a linkage member extending between the angle adjuster and the control arm.

6. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the gear box rotates the angle adjustment plate within a range of 5 to 10 revolutions per minute.

7. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the gear box rotates the angle adjustment plate at an average of seven revolutions per minute.

8. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the angle adjustment plate is provided with at least two linkage pin-receiving recesses.

9. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the control arm is provided with at least two linkage pin-receiving recesses.

10. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the linkage member comprises an adjustable central connector and pivot pin-bearing extensions at opposite ends of said central connector.

11. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the pivot pin-bearing extensions of the linkage member are pivotally mounted on the adjustment plate and control arm.

12. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the frame of the baseball receiving net is arched.

13. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 1, wherein lower ends of the net are attached to a generally circular basin.

14. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 13, wherein at least one support strut extends from the basin to the throwing machine.

15. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 13, wherein the basin is depressed and provided with a central opening, said central opening being in communication with the feed assembly.

16. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the feed assembly comprises an upper, generally vertical cage and a curved guide member extending from a lower end of the cage to the throwing machine.

17. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 16, wherein the upper, generally vertical cage is mounted around the central opening in the basin.

18. The receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to claim 16, wherein the cage and the guide member are sized and shaped so that a baseball may travel smoothly from the receiving net to the throwing machine.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

A claim is hereby made to the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/614,833 filed Oct. 1, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to baseball throwing machines and more particularly to receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus therefor.

In the past, baseball throwing machines have been stationarily mounted. While prior art mounting mechanism could be manually adjusted, baseballs could not be continuously or automatically dispensed over a wide range of angles. For batting practice, the stationary throwing machines were satisfactory, but their usefulness diminished with fielding practice, particularly when several players were involved. In order to give each player a turn, someone had to stand by the machine and rotate or pivot it towards each player.

In addition, baseball throwing machines of the past required someone to manually load a hopper with baseballs or feed them directly into the mechanism. In the fielding practice situation, someone also had to catch the baseballs being thrown toward the machine by the players.

Thus, the present inventor was faced with the problem of modifying a baseball throwing machine to reduce the amount of time someone, like the baseball coach, had to spend operating and otherwise attending to the throwing machine during fielding practice.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to the preferred embodiment are adapted for use on a baseball throwing machine and basically comprise an electrically actuated, adjustable oscillator provided with a mount for receiving the baseball throwing machine; a upstanding and outspread baseball-receiving net including a frame for mounting the net in an upstanding and outspread position above the throwing machine; and a feed assembly extending between the baseball-receiving net and the throwing machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view thereof; and

FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As indicated in FIGS. 1 and 2, receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus according to the present preferred embodiment are adapted for use on a baseball throwing machine 10 and basically comprise an electrically actuated, adjustable oscillator 12 provided with a mount 18 for receiving the baseball throwing machine 10: an upstanding and outspread baseball-receiving net 14 disposed above the throwing machine 10; and a feed assembly 16 extending between the net 14 and the throwing machine 10.

As indicated in FIGS. 1-3, the oscillator mount 18 may be an elongated shaft 18 pivotable back and forth through an arc or angle 20 of adjustable magnitude. The oscillator 12 may comprise, for example, a support housing 22, an electrically actuated motor 24, a gear box 26, and a manually adjustable rotation-to-oscillation converter assembly 27. The converter assembly 27 may comprise an angle adjustment plate 28, a control arm 30 on the shaft 18 and a linkage member 32 extending between the angle adjuster 28 and the control arm 30. The housing may be provided with outriggers (not shown) for additional stability. The gear box 26 may rotate the angle adjustment plate within a range of 5 to 10 revolutions per minute and preferably at an average of seven revolutions per minute. A lower end of the shaft 18 may be pivotally mounted in the housing 22. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the angle adjustment plate 28 may be provided with a plurality of linkage pin-receiving recesses or bores 34 disposed in a cross pattern, and the control arm 30 may likewise be provided with several linkage pin-receiving recesses or bores 34. The linkage member 32 may, for example, comprise an adjustable central connector 35 and pivot pin-bearing extensions 36 at opposite ends of the central connector 34, said pin-bearing extensions 36 being mountable in the recesses or bores 34 in the adjustment plate 28 and control arm 30.

The baseball receiving net 14 may comprise, for example, an arched frame 38, a net or web 40 supported by the frame 38, and a circular basin 42 to which lower ends of the net 40 are attached. Support struts 44 may extend from the basin 42 to the throwing machine 10. As may be readily understood, the net 40 is adapted to absorb the impact of a baseball thrown at it by a player, thereby causing the ball to drop into the basin 42. The basin 42 may be depressed and provided in its central region with a central opening 47 to guide the baseball into the feed assembly 16.

The feed assembly 16 may comprise, for example, an upper, generally vertical cage 46 mounted around the central opening 47 in the basin 42 and a curved guide member 48 extending from a lower end of the cage 46 to a gate (not shown) on the throwing machine 10. The cage 46 and guide member 48 are sized and shaped so that a baseball may travel smoothly from the receiving net 14 to the throwing machine 10.

The present embodiment of the receiving, feeding and oscillating apparatus may be operated, for example, in the following manner. The subject apparatus may be positioned at home plate on a baseball diamond or otherwise located on a practice field. The players may be arrayed in typical fashion relative to the baseball diamond, or simply stationed at spaced and/or staggered intervals on the practice field. The present apparatus is then manually set to oscillate through an arc defined by the distance between the outermost players. The foregoing setting is accomplished by adjusting the central connector 35 so that the length of the linkage member 32 in such that the pivot pins on the extensions 36 can be mounted in the appropriate bores 34 on the control arm 30 and the angle adjustment plate 28. Locating the appropriate bores 34 may be by trial and error, or the angle adjustment plate 28 and the control arm 30 may be provided with indicia (not shown) adjacent to the bores 34 to assist the operator in establishing the desired angle of oscillation.

The baseball-throwing machine 10 may then be adjusted according to its manufacturer's instructions to regulate the arc, speed and frequency at which baseballs are hurled and switched to the operative mode. The motor 24 in the oscillator 12 is also turned on.

When the machine 10 throws a baseball, a player fields it and throws it to another player or to the baseball receiving net 14. In any event, one of the players eventually tosses the ball into the receiving net 14, whereupon it falls into the basin 42, rolls into the central opening 47 and travels downwardly in the feed assembly 16 until it reaches the uppermost baseball queued behind the gate (not shown) on the throwing machine 10. In the meantime, the oscillator 12 is pivoting the throwing machine 12 through the selected arc and, depending upon the frequency setting, the throwing machine 10 is tossing out baseballs in a distribution pattern that allows all of the players to have multiple opportunities to practice fielding without requiring anyone to be continually feeding or adjusting the throwing machine 10.

While a single embodiment has been described and illustrated in detail, the foregoing disclosure is not intended to unduly limit or restrict the spirit of the invention or the scope of the following claims.