Title:
Tapered Cork Device For Baseball Hitting Practice
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baseball batting/hitting practice object that is shaped as a tapered cork device measuring 1½″ in height and covered with PVC imitation leather. The purpose of the tapered shape is to allow the batting practice pitcher throw the cork device straight, yet by holding it in various positions allows it to slice through the air in a manner that makes it curve or change direction to a controllable degree. This movement of the cork device simulates certain pitches thrown by a pitcher in a competitive baseball game. The small size of the cork device, combined with the movement when thrown forces the hitter to increase his concentration level in order to make contact with the cork device which ultimately should improve the hitter's skills. When hit by a conventional bat, the cork device is designed to travel only approximately between 75 to 100 feet depending on the hitter's age and strength. This is important since the cork device is intended for use on small playing areas such as backyards, inside gymnasiums (for winter baseball training) and on a portion of the playing field. The combination of cork and PVC imitation leather generates a similar sound as a regulation baseball when hit with a conventional wood or metal bat.



Inventors:
Blanco Jr., Louis A. (Newtown, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/907516
Publication Date:
10/05/2006
Filing Date:
04/04/2005
Assignee:
CLASSIC SPORTS DISTRIBUTORS, INC. (Newtown, CT, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Louis Blanco (Newtown, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tapered cork object used as a batting practice device for baseball players and for recreational baseball entertainment which is smaller than a regulation sized baseball, which is comprised of compound cork, stitched PVC imitation leather and a bonding agent and designed to withstand being struck by a conventional baseball bat.

2. A cork device as set forth in claim 1, consisting of an inner portion of compound cork made of wood cork particles and outer covering of PVC imitation leather, whereas the top (larger) portion of the device measures approximately 1⅝″ in diameter, bottom (smaller) portion of the cork measures approximately 1⅜″ in diameter, with the height being approximately 1½″.

3. A cork device as set forth in claim 1 that is extremely smaller than a regulation size baseball and has a tapered shape which allows it to curve to a controllable degree.

4. A cork device as set forth in claim 1 that has manufactured components of cork and PVC, when struck be a conventional baseball bat produces a similar sound as a regulation baseball.

5. A cork device as set forth in claim 1 that has a total weight of approximately 0.50 ounces, which restricts the flight distance of the cork device when hit with a baseball bat to a general maximum distance of approximately 75-100 feet depending on the strength of the hitter.

Description:

This invention relates to devices and methods for training in the technique for hitting a baseball.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

In playing the game of baseball, one must be proficient at hitting a ball that is between 9″ to 9.25″ in circumference (rule 1.09 of the Major League Baseball Rule Book). When a conventional baseball is thrown from 60′6″ at 90 mph toward the hitter, the hitter is required to have good judgment and a physical reaction time within 0.2 second. Often said to be the most difficult thing to do in any sport, hitting a baseball successfully requires endless hours of practice and training. In an attempt to practice hitting, baseball ballplayers must either go to an indoor facility to hit within cages or nets so that the baseball does not cause harm to others when hit, or they must obtain the access of a full size baseball field which is often difficult to get.

When practicing hitting, a common theory among baseball coaches and players is to practice striking a smaller than regulation sized baseball object to enhance hitting skills. The feeling is similar to that of swinging a heavy bat before competition which will make the hitter's game bat feel lighter and improve their muscle reaction; the same concept is accepted that hitting a small object continuously before competition will make the baseball look larger when facing a pitcher using regulation sized baseball. Training with a smaller object for purposes of hitting will also refine your muscle and hand-eye coordination since successfully hitting the smaller sized object requires less margin for error. Another method of practicing hitting skills is to hit balls that curve or break direction when thrown by a pitcher similar to those thrown in a competitive baseball game. An added element to further improve hitting skills, as well as increase the enjoyment of the task of practicing would be to practice with a small object that can change direction, and also one that sounds like a regulation baseball when struck by a conventional bat. The sound facet is important since all hitters can recognize successful contact simply by the type of “whack” sound produced when the baseball makes contact with the bat.

One example of a method for improving a hitter's skills by using a smaller than regulation baseball, is the batting practice baseball in U.S. Pat. No. 5,788,591 to Thomas J. Decker. This practice baseball is 65% to 90% smaller than a regulation size baseball, but has all of the “on field” characteristics of a regulation baseball relating to how the ball is thrown and how hard and far the ball is hit. In addition, to make the Decker practice baseball curve or break direction, the pitcher needs to change his arm angle and “twist” it while throwing. To achieve this, a pitcher must be advanced at throwing a baseball. Also throwing non-straight pitches with a round ball similar to the Decker practice baseball, puts additional stress on the pitchers throwing arm. The tapered shape of our cork device combined with how it rests in the pitcher's hand determines its flight. A minimal level of baseball talent is needed to throw or pitch the cork device so that the hitter can successfully practice his skills. The cork device can be thrown straight, or made to curve and break direction by simply throwing it straight (natural to the pitcher), hence adding no extra stress on the pitcher's arm. At this point, we reference U.S. Pat. No. 4,286,783 to Nelson F. Newcomb. The Newcomb patent relates to a practice baseball that is spherical with part of the surface being flat resulting from the removal of a portion of the ball. This causes the ball to curve when thrown without the pitcher having to change his arm angle. However, the Newcomb practice ball is similar in size to a regulation baseball and also has similar characteristics of a regulation baseball regarding how hard and how far it can be hit. Our invention achieves both hitting enhancing criteria as the cited patents by being small in size and being able to curve or break direction. In addition, our cork device can be used in a small playing area since its flight when hit by a conventional baseball bat is limited by intent.

As mentioned earlier, practicing hitting a regulation baseball requires the use of an entire baseball field or with the confines of a batting practice cage or net. Our cork device was designed to travel a maximum of 75 to 100 feet depending on the hitter's age and strength. This is about ⅕ the distance of a regulation baseball, allowing use in small playing areas such as a portion of the baseball field, a backyard, or inside a gymnasium. Since the cork device does not travel as far as a regulation baseball and the tapered shape of the object restricts the on rolling distance of the cork device, it makes retrieving the cork device easier and quicker therefore, allowing players to practice longer and hit more often in given period of time. The light weight of the cork device also lessens safety risks compared to a regulation baseball, which contributes to practical use in small areas and fields that are shared among multiple players/teams.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

For the purpose of increasing a baseball hitter's hand-eye coordination and overall hitting skills, the aim of our invention is to provide a hitting practice device that is: (a) much smaller than a regulation baseball; (b) when pitched in the manner of throwing a straight ball, can be controlled to emulate a fastball, curve or break direction similar to balls pitched in a competitive baseball game; (c) travels a relative small distance of ground when hit therefore, can be played in small field areas; (d) the combination of interior compound cork and outer layer of PVC imitation leather creates a similar “crack” when hit with a wood bat and “ping” when hit with a metal bat as does a conventional regulation baseball. Since our cork device sounds just like a conventional baseball when hit, it enhances the “virtual reality” of hitting the cork device as it relates to simulating a competitive baseball game, thus providing a certain level of enjoyment while practicing or playing with the cork device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view of the material construction of the cork device exhibiting the interior cork by a removal of a small segment. It also shows the stitching, which is present in the PVC at the bottom (smaller) portion of the cork device, as well as the top PVC layer that is bonded to the top (larger) portion of the cork device.

FIG. 2 is a view relating to the circumference of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows the diameter of the invention relating to the contour of the cork device.

FIG. 4 illustrates examples of how to grip the cork device so that when thrown to the hitter controllably simulates a fastball, curve and other pitches that are seen in a regulation's baseball game.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

It is essential for the cork device to be tapered so that it has a defined larger section and a smaller section. This allows the cork device to be placed in the practice pitcher's hand and thrown to the hitter so that the cork device can move in a controlled direction (see FIG. 4). The overall length of the cork device needs to be approximately 1½″, so that it is recognizably smaller to the hitter and presents a sizable contrast in size to a regulation baseball. The size and movement of the cork device along with the sound produced when hit, is what makes this invention unique and desirable for use in increasing a baseball player's hitting skills. The weight of the invention is merely 0.50 ounces which restricts the travel distance when hit by a conventional bat. This allows the cork device to be used in small playing areas making play and/or practice more attainable.

Referring to FIG. 1, the components of the cork device consist of a core of compound cork and an outer layer of PVC imitation leather. The leather is stitched (or sewn) to itself at the smaller end of the device, as well as along one side so that it fits the cork device tightly allowing the device to keep its tapered shape. The PVC imitation leather is adhered to the interior cork at the larger end (5″ circumference end shown in FIG. 2) by a bonding agent. A separate PVC imitation leather component circular in shape is then applied to the larger end using the same bonding agent as previously mentioned. This brings us to FIG. 2 of the attached drawings. The top portion of the cork device is 5″ in circumference. As the cork tapers to the smaller end, the midsection measures 4⅝″ and the bottom narrows to 4⅜″.

The top diameter of the cork device is approximately 1⅝″, whereas the bottom of the device is 1⅜″ as shown in FIG. 3.

In creating this invention for improving ones hitting skills and enhancing the experience of practicing such skills, such components and structure of the cork device result in achieving the following goals:

    • 1. an object significantly smaller than a regulation baseball that can withstand the continuous contact of a conventional baseball bat.
    • 2. an object that can curve or changes direction when thrown to the hitter in a manner that simulates the flight of a regulation baseball.
    • 3. the result of declaration a and b forces the hitter to increase his concentration level and improve his hand-eye coordination over a period of time.
    • 4. an object that when struck by a conventional baseball bat that produces a very similar sound as a regulation baseball, giving the hitter a sense of successful contact or not, by the type of “whack” resulting from contact.