Title:
Batter's finger-worn variable-density control-pad
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A baseball batter's improved grip enhancing Pow'rPad™ device providing therapeutic vibration sting-absorption, which in critically configured for use upon one's upper/batting-hand, while primarily employing the forefinger but optionally including the adjacent middle-finger for positioning stability. The user's two fingers are fully inserted (with or without a conventional batting-glove) through a pair of intimately fitting spaced apart holes provided into a resiliently flexile preferably frothed-neoprene roll-stock material, clad on both sides with reinforcing nylon/stretch-fabric. An integral bolster cushion portion is arranged distally opposite the finger-holes, formed via a circular-wrap of the pad material around an extruded-core of resilient material. This constitutes the primary performance enhancing feature, whereby both ‘advanced bat positioning’, and advantageous ‘rebound-effect’ is provided; —enabling the batter to hit a ball further with greater control. The insert-cushion can be selectively changed, thereby offering variable compliance characteristics according to individual user preference; thus encouraging a more aggressive bat-swing action by dispelling any subconscious trepidation over dreaded debilitating hand-injury shock-trauma.



Inventors:
Richard, Robert J. (San Diego, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/214781
Publication Date:
12/24/2009
Filing Date:
06/23/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TOMPKINS, ALISSA JILL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
J. Robert Richard (San Diego, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed of proprietary inventive origin is:

1. A lightweight batting-pad device aiding a batter's grip and control of their bat, including positive self-aligning protection of the delicate web area between thumb and forefinger; said device comprising: a flexile body made from a conventional planar cushioning material durably clad upon opposing sides with nylon/stretch-fabric including two vertically spaced apart intimately fitting finger-holes arranged proximally along the upper outward-terminus thereof, plus a receiver-sleeve arranged along opposite inward-terminus portion thereof for holding an elongate insert-cushion of optional compliance means forming a bolster lodged proximal the base of upper/batting-hand's forefinger and middle-finger against which the bat-handle is supported, while the proximal lower-half of same hand interfaces the bat directly without aid of cushioning; batting-pad thereby displacing bat-handle further toward forefinger's distal-end to provide improved mechanical-leverage, enabling greater bat swing-speed.

2. The batting-pad device according to claim-1, wherein said receiver-sleeve of said bolster is elastic thereby enabling manual press-fitted installation of said insert-cushion which can be adapted from one of a variety of different materials and cross-sectional configuration embodiments to suit a batter's requirements; thereby enabling impacted ball to linger in contact upon the bat a small fraction of a second longer whilst said bolster becomes slightly compressed then rebounds upon bat-handle during progression of bat-swing; said bolster thereby imparting novel thrust modulation found to advantageously send the ball further.

3. The batting-pad device according to claim-2, wherein said insert-cushion's material and configuration embodiment can be of extruded open-cell or closed-cell foam material, or extruded tubular polymer or elastomer material, and of circular or other cross-sectional shape, which shore-durometer compliance rating quality is therefore regarded as variable and determined according to user preference.

4. The batting-pad device according to claim-2, wherein said insert-cushion's material and configuration embodiment is that of an imperforate resiliently flexile capsule, containing a fluid medium which may be compressible or non-compressible in nature determined according to user preference and engineering-design choice.

5. The batting-pad device according to claim-4, wherein said capsule is a tiny pneumatic cylindrical structure including a finger operated coaxial button incorporating a plunger-piston with integral check-valve means arranged at uppermost terminus of said capsule, whilst lower-terminus of said capsule includes a coaxially arranged push-button relief-valve means; thereby enabling batter to pump-up said aggregate bolster to the degree of compliance firmness they desire, or conversely deflate same to degree desired.

6. The batting-pad device according to claim-1, wherein said receiver-sleeve portion is formed by folding the cushioning material over upon itself 180-degrees, and then sewing that said inward-terminus edge permanently to the main said body portion, resulting in a substantially O-shaped receiver-sleeve cross-section.

7. The batting-pad device according to claim-1, wherein said bolster provides effective protection to the sensitive abductor-pollicis-trans musculature while also protecting the proximal joint of the thumb and proximal joint of the forefinger.

8. The batting-pad device according to claim-1, wherein said finger-holes are nominally sized approximately ⅜ths-inch to 1-inch in diameter, covering usage from beginning youngster to professional.

9. The batting-pad device according to claim-1, wherein thickness of said bolster lodged between bat-handle and base of both forefinger and middle-finger is sufficient to advance stroke position of the bat's longitudinal-axis approximately 1½-degrees to 3-degrees as bat is gripped normally in usage; and is measured as an angle-of-incidence from the bat's longitudinal-axis generally poised at a right-angle from batter's forearm-axis.

10. The batting-pad device according to claim-1, wherein said cushioning material is closed-celled frothed-neoprene or its equivalent, and is of approximately 1/16-inch to ¼-inch in thickness.

11. An ultra-lightweight batting-pad device aiding a batter's grip and control of their bat, while providing protection to the delicate web area between thumb and forefinger; said device comprising: a flexile body made from a conventional planar cushioning material durably clad upon opposing sides with nylon/stretch-fabric including a single intimately fitting forefinger hole arranged proximal the upper outward-terminus thereof, plus a receiver-sleeve arranged along opposite inward-terminus portion thereof adapted to receive an elongate insert-cushion of optional compliance means forming a bolster lodged proximal the base of upper/batting-hand's forefinger against which the bat-handle is supported, while proximal lower portion of same hand interfaces the bat directly without aid of cushioning; batting-pad thereby displacing the bat further toward forefinger's distal-end to provide improved mechanical-leverage, enabling greater bat swing-speed.

12. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said receiver-sleeve of said bolster is elastic enabling easy manual press-fitted installation of said insert-cushion which can be adapted from one of a variety of different materials and cross-sectional configuration embodiments to suit a batter's requirements; thereby enabling impacted ball to linger in contact upon the bat a small fraction of a second longer whilst said bolster becomes slightly compressed then rebounds upon bat-handle during progression of bat-swing; said bolster thereby imparting novel thrust modulation found to advantageously send the ball further.

13. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said material and configuration embodiment can be of extruded open-cell or closed-cell foam material, or extruded tubular polymer or elastomer material, and of circular or triangular cross-sectional shape, which shore-durometer compliance rating quality is therefore regarded as variable and determined according to user preference.

14. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said material and configuration embodiment is an imperforate flexile capsule, containing a fluid medium which may be compressible or non-compressible in nature determined according to user preference.

15. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said receiver-sleeve is formed by folding the cushioning material over upon itself 180-degrees, and then sewing that said inward-terminus edge permanently to the main said body portion, resulting in a substantially O-shaped receiver-sleeve cross-section.

16. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said receiver-sleeve with insert-cushion provides effective protection to the sensitive abductor-pollicis-trans musculature while also protecting the proximal joint of the thumb and proximal joint of the forefinger.

17. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said finger-holes are nominally sized approximately ⅜ths-inch to 1-inch in diameter, covering usage from beginning youngster to professional.

18. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein thickness of said bolster lodged between bat-handle and base of both forefinger and middle-finger is sufficient to advance stroke position of the bat's longitudinal-axis approximately 1½ degrees to 3-degrees as bat is gripped normally in usage; and measured as an angle-of-incidence relative to a reference-line extending at a right-angle from batter's forearm at the wrist.

19. The batting-pad device according to claim-11, wherein said cushioning material is closed-celled frothed-neoprene or its equivalent, and is of approximately 1/16-inch to ¼-inch in thickness.

20. A method of making and using a lightweight batting-pad device aiding a batter's grip, control, and thrust of their bat, while providing protection to the delicate web area between thumb and forefinger; said method comprising: providing a flexile planar body of closed-cell foam-material which is permanently clad upon both broad sides with nylon/stretch-fabric that is at least approximately 1/16-inch but not greater than approximately ¼-inch in thickness; then die-cutting said body of material into an elongated D-shape while simultaneously providing a forefinger-hole proximal the upper-corner of the outward-terminus thereof; providing an integral bolster arranged along the opposite inward-terminus of said body by folding-over an approximate ½-inch strip once upon itself, and permanently sewing long-edge of said strip to said body, resulting in an elastic receiver-sleeve dependent from said finger-hole body portion and having a substantially O-shaped cross-section; providing an elongate insert-cushion adapted from one of various conventional pliant materials and cross-sectional configuration embodiments for manual press-fitted installation into said receiver-sleeve; providing a user's upper/batting-hand and installing batting-pad thereto by simply extending the forefinger through said forefinger-hole, then laying bat-handle against said bolster and closing the fingers in a normal manner of two-handed batting-grip, the effect of said bolster's upper presence thereby at once outsetting the upper portion of the bat-handle at a slight bias relative to the upper batting-hand's lower fingers while forcing said bolster firmly against the web area between thumb and forefinger now at a substantially advanced angle-of-incidence relative to batter's forearm; providing batter a pitched ball and upon choosing to swing at and impacting the moving ball, the bat-handle compresses said bolster lodged against upper portion of user's upper batting-hand, whereupon a fraction of a second later the bolster rebounds thereby helping to send the ball further.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to hand worn grip assist means for athletes, and particularly relates to resilient pads specifically protective of a baseball batter's hand-web region; affording enhanced control of batting performance.

2. Relevant Prior-Art

Background research discovery provides some prior patent-art regarded as germane to this disclosure, chronologically for example U.S. Pat. No. 4,461,043 (filed: July 1982 by P. R. LoMedico) sets forth DirectProtect®, a popular light-weight cushioning-pad which is made of flexible molded-rubber. It is adapted to encircle a batter's thumb by provision of a single approximate ¾-inch diameter hole (surrounded by a larger wire reinforcement-ring formed integrally into the pad's foam material), and configured as a 1-piece structure in combination with a contiguous tongue like portion extending radially therefrom, as is said to thereby overlap and protect the ‘metacarpal phalangeal thumb-joint’ of the batter's upper-hand. Although this simple thumb-pad invention has been the subject of several subsequent improvement USA-patents by the same inventor (including refinements—U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,389,596/6,260,198/6,996,849/6,799,329), the essence of the single-holed design remains that which has already been described. Accordingly, the problem reported with this design is found in its lack of a positively reliable radial-alignment or stabilizing anchoring means relative to the thumb and web-region areas, of which are to be desirably protected.

In my own U.S. Pat. No. 4,977,621 (filed: October 1989 to J. R. Richard) wherein is set forth my original Mk-1 version Pow'rPad®, which is a resiliently flexile substantially planar 1-piece hand-grip assist pad employing four spaced apart aligned die-cut holes adapted to individually receive all of the fingers of one's hand; and being symmetrical is thereby intended to protect the nerves and musculature of either a left or right hand. While a layer of nylon/stretch-fabric is provided upon the side facing palm of user's hand, an optional foam integral bolster like palm-cushion (15) may also be included at the pad's distal inward-terminus region furthest from said finger-holes, which not only acts to dampen batting-vibration-shock to the palm of batter's hand, it also advantageously serves to set a baseball-bat handle further outward toward batter's finger-tips; —thereby enabling improved grip and shock-absorption. In retrospect however, this earlier configuration suffers several disadvantages: a.) owing it extends the full-width of user's hand, some pro-batters report its mass imposes excessive weight during bat-swing, which tends to be counter-productive to the gain achieved by displacing the bat-handle evenly toward one's finger-tips; and b.) owing that the bonded-on bolster portion (necessarily neoprene-foam chemically bonded to neoprene-foam) prevented adding a durable layer of nylon/stretch-fabric clad upon the side facing away from user's palm, the resulting pad is relatively fragile to the extent that it is prone to tearing-out at the holes particularly when wearing batting-gloves; and c.) owing the optional bolster portion is of fixed construction, there is no means for altering the density/compliance of the bolster in the field (ie: once leaving the factory) according to user preference.

In U.S. Pat. No. 5,806,091 (filed: November 1996 by M. L. McHugh) is shown a baseball-bat gripping aid device which is an elongate strip of resiliently flexible foam material formed with slightly undulating finger-stalls, in combination with an exemplified elastic-band serving as a retaining means upon one or more of the user's fingers; whereby the device specifically interfaces upon the ‘superficial transverse metacarpal ligament’ at the base of user's fingers, whilst impinging against the bat-handle.

In U.S. Pat. No. 6,532,594 (filed: May 2002 by E. C. Barnett) is shown a planar flexible circular protective insert-pad specifically for cushioning the impact of a fast moving ball caught in a baseball-glove. The device is die-cut in 1-piece from high-density microcellular-urethane roll-stock material; thus the lower half-circle portion of the pad acts to protect user's palm, while the upper half-circle portion includes two U-shaped finger-reliefs acting to positively position the pad, while also serving as a pair of protective-flaps relative to the fragile sub-metacarpal (inward) region of the two fingers closest to the thumb (index and middle fingers).

In U.S. Pat. No. 6,898,802 (filed: June 2004 by M. A. Suarleo) is shown a flexible gripping-mitt or ‘grip-glove’, said to be particularly suitable for barbell weight-lifting, and comprises a major planar palm-pad portion which extends the full width of user's hand, covering most of the palm and gripping surfaces of the fingers. A smaller pad-appendage extends therefrom as to also impinge against one's thumb gripping surface; —thereby forming a substantially L-shaped configuration in plan-view. The main body of this grip-glove is outwardly textured for slip resistance, but otherwise free of undulations; and is held to the user's palm region by an elastic-strap transversely encircling the back of user's hand; while the thumb protecting appendage simply lays upon the V-shaped region between thumb and index-finger. However, owing the bulky construction, the grip-glove is not considered suitable for gripping of a baseball-bat handle.

In U.S. Pat. No. 7,043,762 (filed: June 2003 by J. Greenhalgh) is shown an athletic finger, palm, and wrist protective “slider's-pad” for aggressive hands extended base-stealing ground-diving by baseball players. This device is made principally of leather, but with added foam palm-cushion proximal the rear-terminus, where is included a transverse retention-strap; plus the pad's forward-terminus is rolled entirely around a transverse foam-dowel (about which the user wraps their fingers during their sliding-dive to a base), and including a proximal forward-most transverse elastic-band through which at least two of the user's fingers are inserted to aid holding the forward portion of the slider's-pad to their fingers during relaxation of the fingers. However, the general bulk of the device would preclude usage as a batting aid, and there is no anticipation of inserting differing densities of foam-dowels.

Therefore, in full consideration of the preceding patent review, there is determined a need for an improved form of device to which these patents have been largely addressed. The instant inventor hereof believes their newly improved Mk-II device, commercially referred to as the Pro/Pow'rPad®, currently being developed for production under auspices of the ‘Sports Products Consultants —Inc.’ a mfg./mkt.company, exhibits certain improvements and advantages as shall be revealed in the subsequent portion of this disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A.) In view of the foregoing discussion about the earlier invention art, it is therefore important to make it pellucid to others interested in the art that the object of this invention is to set forth a substantially improved specialized Mk-II Pow'rPad®, now configured to provide what is believed to be the favored option in baseball bat-handle gripping effectiveness; whereby my Pow'rPad® is not only a grip-pad, —it is a batter's ‘control-pad’. In the preceding dissertation on the believed most relevant prior-art patents, was included candidly critical review of my earlier Mk-I/Pow'rPad® U.S. Pat. No. 4,977,621; and with that understanding, this present disclosure endeavors to correct those shortcomings of my Mk-I product via my Mk-II embodiment, the result of thoughtful in-depth analysis toward discovering how to overcome certain deficiencies of my nevertheless popular Mk-I product. Accordingly, while my Mk-I embodiment served to impinge upon a major portion of the batter's hand palm region, my new Mk-II configuration teaches a far more compact and durable construction, which is approximately one-forth the weight of my original Mk-I batter's-model hand-grip assist pad. Thus, I have discovered several enabling advantages, including improved bat-to-ball momentum transfer; resulting in increased ball-velocity off the bat! Moreover, because my new Mk-II embodiment concentrates its protectiveness toward the delicate fleshy web-tissue and contracting-muscle spanning between one's thumb and forefinger, physiologically referred to as the ‘abductor-pollicis-trans’-muscle (vital muscle enabling the thumb to firmly oppose remainder of the hand), it is providing significantly reduced incidence of RSI/repetitive-shock-injury trauma caused by so-called ‘bat-sting’, a harsh resonance generated typically when a fast moving ball impacts the bat-barrel at a region above or sometimes below the bat's CoP/center-of-percussion or *‘sweet-spot’ *(region 5-7 inches inboard of the barrel-tip) inducing a momentary longitudinal bending, the resulting oscillations of which become telegraphed down the narrowing handle, culminating there with a greatly increased amplitude of vibration (owing the lighter mass at the handle region) becoming a sharply amplified resonance twang, hence a sudden severe muscle-spasm inducing vibration best described as somewhat akin to a sudden AC-electrical shock; —which can even occur on a one-time basis. If less energy is imparted to moving the batter's hands (the upper-hand being essentially the fulcrum point), then more energy will be transferred to the ball! Owing to the dynamics involved, when a ball impacts the bat substantially below the ‘CoP’ it can generate a force tending to push the bat-handle into the batter's palm, yet conversely, when the ball impacts the bat substantially above the ‘CoP’ the batter will feel a slight push against their fingers, —trying to open their grip; —but when the ball's impact point is proximal to the CoP there is no tendency for the bat to rotate about the CoP. I am relating much of this here so as to impart an appreciation as to my latest understanding of the basic-physics which has influenced development of my advanced Mk-II/Pow'rPad®. Additionally, a further object of this disclosure is to set forth an improved device aiding in absorption of dreaded bat-sting RSI-syndrome, which is known to cause even professional baseball players to unconsciously ‘flinch’ in anticipation of the stinging-pain they have recently experienced; —an affliction that can cause a fractional-second hesitation, which is detrimental to their reaction-time, —thereby adversely effecting batting-performance.

B.) Another object of this invention disclosure is to set forth my improved Mk-II Pow'rPad article, wherein is additionally provided a more durable construction now comprising a commercially available closed-celled frothed-neoprene roll-stock material that is preferably now preferably approximately only ⅛-inch in nominal thickness (although a thickness range of 1/16-inch to ¼-inch is tolerable) including a bilateral (ie: both opposing broad sides) layer of conventional closely-knit stretch-nylon fabric permanently flame-bonded in a precisely controlled conventional calender pressure-rolled bonding process. We then conventionally die-cut the initial product into an elongate D-shape, including simultaneous die-cutting of either one or two spaced apart approximately ⅝″-diameter (will vary according to adult or junior models) finger-hole(s) arranged proximal the right-hand portion of the exemplified D-shape (whereby with about ⅜″ spacing between the holes (in my 2-finger embodiment), and about ¼″ of material outside the hole(s), and a transverse-width (extending between the outward-terminus and the inward-terminus) of approximately 2¼-inches for both 1-finger and 2-finger models; whereupon we then fold the opposite inward-terminus portion 180-degrees back upon itself, and permanently stitch this resulting approximate ½-inch wide linear-flap to the main body portion about a ½-inch from the said finger-hole(s), and thereby resulting in a longitudinal length of approximately only 2-inches. The resulting O-shaped receiver-sleeve portion of my Mk-II/Pow'rPad® product is thus ready for post-insertion (press-fitted installation either at the factory or by the user) of the generally cylindrically shaped insert-cushion within the elastic receiver-sleeve integrally fabricated by the afro mentioned pre-sewn procedure. So as enable the user a variable-density cushioning capability, I prefer to include in the packaging several different insert-cushions made from different extruded-foam mediums, —such as from closed-cell frothed-neoprene, frothed-polyethylene, frothed-urethane, open-celled polymer, elastomer-tubing, etc.; plus, we are now also considering the option of a light-weight pneumatic-capsule, and possibly even a hydrostatic-capsule, all of which are designed to meet the particular preferences of individual batters.

Configured as either a 1-finger (forefinger) or 2-finger (forefinger & middle-finger) generic-variant embodiment models, the 1-finger version is favored by some for its ultimately light-weight quality, while the 2-finger version offers the advantage of always being positively self-aligned relative to the base of the forefinger and middle-finger; thereby remaining properly oriented toward the web spanning thumb and forefinger. While the finger-hole(s) vary in size according to the three incremental classifications of small/medium/large/X-lag., the diameters thus ranging from ⅜-inch (for beginning youngsters) to 1-inch (for a ‘pro’ wearing batting-gloves). Generally speaking, the longitudinal (with reference to the bat-handle axis) length of my insert-cushions can range from about 1½-inches long or less for some 1-finger models, to 2¾-inches long or more for some 2-finger models; although it should be understood that a short insert-cushion can be employed with the 2-finger model, and the longer insert-cushion with the 1-finger model according to user preference. Furthermore, owing this major reconstruction and resulting diminutive size, the bolster (formed via combination of receiver-sleeve and the insert-cushion) of my Mk-II Pow'rPad® advantageously no longer comes in contact with the lower two or three fingers nor the major palm area of the hand; thereby uniquely concentrating the resulting offset displacing of the bat-handle toward the more powerful forefinger (and including the middle-finger in 2-finger models). However, bear in mind for example, that owing the preferred open-ended construction of the pad's receiver-sleeve, a user can if desired install a short insert-cushion in the 2-fingered model, so as to thereby obtain the self-aligning feature in combination with a more pronounced offsetting of the bat-handle. Therefore, while I generally recommend my 2-finger model for Junior/Little-league® players, I believe more experienced on up to professional Minor-league and Major-league baseball batters prefer trying various different insert-cushion mediums, to select which particular combination of features and insert-cushion density compliance characteristics best suit their particular batting requirements.

Accordingly, owing the thickness of the now abbreviated bolster, my Mk-II embodiment is uniquely able to advantageously offset the longitudinal-axis of the bat approximately 1-degree to 3-degrees (given the bat is gripped in an otherwise normal manner of usage) as measured relative to a reference-line extending at a right-angle from the batter's forearm at the wrist; which is tantamount to a lead-time effectively advancing the position of the batter's stroke, providing significantly improved mechanical-leverage for greater bat swing-speed.

C.) Another object of this invention disclosure is to set forth an improved Pow'rPad® according to afore said items-A/B wherein a further viable performance phenomenon was discovered involving my Mk-II embodiment, whereby dependent upon the compliance and shore-durometer (firmness vrs: softness) characteristic of the insert-cushion, the impacted ball can actually linger in contact upon the bat-barrel a small fraction of a second longer (ie: measured in milli-seconds), during which dwell-time duration, the bolster member lodged betwixt the bat-handle and the base of the forefinger (and against the base of the middle-finger as well, depending upon the length of insert-cushion employed) becomes slightly compressed, then instantaneously rebounds with thus stored energy transference upon the upper bat-handle upon impact with the ball during progression of the batter's swing. The ‘rebounding-effect’ of my bolster member thereby serving somewhat akin to the increased altitude achieved by a swimmer high-jumping from a diving-board having a resilient rubber spring-pad positioned thereunder at the fulcrum-point, —imparting a novel thrust-modulating energizing action; —which I have found via independently-conducted scientifically controlled robotic/batting-machine tests, can potentially (dependent upon the compliance characteristic of the bolster, relative to the weight and swing-speed of the bat, and velocity of the thrown ball) send the ball further owing to increased post-impact velocity.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT DRAWINGS

The foregoing and still other objects of this invention will become fully apparent, along with various advantages and features of novelty residing in the present embodiments, from study of the following description of the variant generic species embodiments and study of the ensuing description of these embodiments. Wherein indicia of reference are shown to match related matter stated in the text, as well as the Claims section annexed hereto; and accordingly, a better understanding of the invention and the variant uses is intended, by reference to the drawings, which are considered as primarily exemplary and not to be therefore construed as restrictive in nature; wherein:

FIG.-1, shows the primary ‘prior art’ grip-pad worn upon an exemplified left-hand, and is an oblique pictorial perspective-view favoring the frontal upper-inward portion of my Mk-I 4-finger embodiment (note: —is FIG.-2 in my original U.S. Pat. No. 4,977,621 which the reference-indicia have been removed to avoid numeric confusion herewith);

FIG.-2A, shows a batter's open left-hand upon which is installed my new ultra-compact 1-finger Mk-II batter's grip-pad, while optional employment of a long/insert-cushion indicated thereto via phantom-outline;

FIG.-2B, is a 2×-enlarged partial view thereof, showing the 1-finger grip-pad embodiment in much greater detail, and better revealing the usage of both a short/insert-cushion and the optional long/insert-cushion;

FIG.-3, is a left-hand showing openhanded installation of my generic-variant 2-finger Mk-II batter's grip-pad invention, which is constructed in the same manner as is more clearly detailed in previous FIG.-2B, but is self-aligning;

FIG.-4, is a slightly elevated side-elevation view particularly concerning the batter's upper-hand gripping of a bat-handle while wearing the Mk-II 1-finger embodiment (2-finger model also indicated via phantom-outline) in typical manner of usage, and including information illustrating the relationship of batter's forearm and wrist-point relative to the bat's longitudinal-axis, graphically demonstrating how the bat is advantageously displaced by critical lodging of the bolster;

FIG.-5, is an enlarged longitudinal cross-sectional view of an alternate generic-variant pneumatic or hydrostatic capsule like insert-cushion, prior to its installation into the receiver-sleeve;

FIG.-6, is a 3×-enlarged side-elevation diagrammatic representation view with partial cut-away view revealing an integral pumping mechanism for the FIG.-5 insert-cushion capsule, showing how the capsule can be adapted with a miniature finger-operated button-piston pneumatic-pump, providing a novel variable compliance action;

FIG.-7, is a broad view of the human-hand, revealing the musculature-structure, and in particular the APT/‘abductor-pollicis-trans’ portion.

ITEMIZED NOMENCLATURE REFERENCES

  • 10,10′/10″,10K—bat-handle, longitudinal-axis position: original/advanced, knob
  • 11—prior-art Mk-I grip-pad
  • 12′/12″—general overall Mk-II embodiment: 1-finger version/2-finger version
  • 13,13′/13″—pad-body, nylon stretch-fabric: finger-base side/bat-handle side
  • 14,14′/14″—upper outer corner, finger insertion holes: forefinger/middle-finger
  • 15,15′/15″,15A,15S—receiver-sleeve, upper-terminus/lower-terminus, axis, stitching
  • 16/16′/16″,16H—insert-cushion (standard): short/medium/long, hollow center
  • 17,17′,17″—Insert-cushion simple capsule, wall structure, internal space
  • 18,18′,18″,18#—insert-cushion pump capsule, cylinder-wall, pushbutton, piston-body
  • 18B,18C′,18C″,18P—bulkhead, pressure-chamber, anti-chamber, relief-plunger
    • 18S,18V′,18V″—piston-seal, flap-valve, check-valve
  • 19′/19″—bolster assembly (receiver-sleeve & insert-cushion): 1-finger/2-finger
  • 20,20′/20″—forearm-axis, upper-hand/lower-hand
  • 21,21′,21″,21B,21M—human-hand:
    • . . . thumb, forefinger, middle-finger, base-region, A.P.T.-muscle web region
  • 22,22′,22″—ball, hitting-zone, ball path Ref.-arrow

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Initial reference is given by way of FIG.-1, wherein is exhibited the believed primary ‘prior-art’, my original and still popular Mk-I/Pow'rPad® 4-finger grip-pad 11. In light of my recent R&D-studies into the dynamics of baseball-bat percussion upon impact with an official hardball, my Mk-I design 11 has been revealed to provide a less than optimal configuration, particularly as it applies to usage by baseball-batters. While indeed providing a degree of protection from so-called ‘bat-sting’, as a batter's aid the construction of my Mk-I does not adequately meet the needs of today's baseball-batters, owing both to the bulk of its excessive full-palm longitudinal-width, and its inability to provide hand protection which can be advantageously varied in compliance resilience according to individual user requirements. Note in FIG.-1 how the Mk-I's flexile planar main-body (a) is constructed of frothed-neoprene, but clad only on the palm interfacing side with a fine-denier nylon/stretch-fabric (b), while the obverse broad-side surface (c) is formed shaved of the normal smooth-skin, which notion was to promote a greater as coefficient-of-friction relative to the bat-handle. Plus, an elongate wedge-shaped longitudinal-axis (d) bolster-cushion (e) was permanently bonded to the pad's exposed-cell surface (c), which has proved to be excessively bulky for many batters. Moreover, the finger-holes (f) tend to fray and tear-out (especially when used over a batting-glove) owing to absence of bilateral reinforcement by an opposing layer of nylon/stretch-fabric.

Accordingly, study of generic FIGS.-2A/2B/3 at once reveals the major change in construction residing in my new Mk-II grip-pad embodiment. For example, it has been discovered that owing the inherent friction of finger-hole impingement upon the forefinger, a minimalist 1-finger embodiment is now provided per FIGS.-2A/2B, owing provision of a fine-denier nylon/stretch-fabric upon both sides of the pad-body 13 (proximal the finger-base impinging side 13′), and at the bat-handle impinging side 13″. Surprisingly, the design first introduced in my here exemplified Mk-II 2-finger Pow'rPad® configuration of FIG.-3, has come to realize its ultimate performance potential via the relative diminutive size of my latest Mk-II 1-finger Pow'rPad® embodiment exhibited in FIGS.-2A/2B; yet it is this novel generic construction (shared by both 1-finger and 2-finger versions) which has enabled a significant performance advancement, —which shall be elaborated upon later herein.

Examining the generic features better revealed in enlarged FIG.-2B, we note the same basic construction configuration is shared by both the 1-finger and 2-finger embodiments, and that the insert-cushion 16 may include an optional hollow center 16H, which provision is designed to further modulate compliance. The flexile (ie: pliant and stretchable) planar grip-pad body 13 is comprised of commercially available 1/16-inch to ¼-inch (preferably the thinner gauge of material) frothed-neoprene which is durably clad upon both broad sides with nylon/stretch-fabric. This unique grip-pad body is first die-cut into an elongated D-shape, while simultaneously punching a forefinger-hole (plus an optional middle-finger hole immediately thereunder in the case of a 2-finger configuration) proximal the upper-corner 14 of the planar body's outward-terminus. Then the O-shaped receiver-sleeve 15 portion is created by folding the inward-terminus 15′ once over upon itself to the extent of at least ½-inch, and 1-inch at the most, where it is permanently attached via linear machine stitching 15″; which constitutes completion of the basic Mk-II grip-pad 1-finger and 2-finger construction. Finally, we install a generally extruded standard insert-cushion 16 (short length exemplified in FIG.-2B) into the resulting elastic receiver-sleeve 15, —thereby comprising the essential core of the overall assembled bolster 19. Note also, that the selected insert-cushion 16 may be substantially flush with the top and bottom openings of the receiver-sleeve (as exemplified in FIG.-2B), or it may be preferred that the insert-cushion terminuses extend upwardly 16″ or downwardly 16″ as is exemplified in FIG.-2A and FIG.-3; or alternately. filling just half of the receiver-sleeve 15 as is indicated at 16′ in FIG.-3 (wherein the insert-cushion may not be extend down in the lower-half of the receiver-sleeve 15, if an individual batter prefers to emphasize concentration of cushioning at the upper portion of the receiver-sleeve). The embodiment of FIG.-3 is that of my new standard 2-finger Mk-II Pow'rPad®, which is essentially a longitudinally elongated version of my FIG.-2A 1-finger Pow'rPad®, the primary advantage of this 2-finger embodiment resides in its providing a self-aligning relationship relative to the base-region 20B of the two upper fingers (forefinger and middle). Note also that my Mk-II Pow'rPad® may be made in various different sizes; hence, proportionately scaled up or down according to the hand dimensions of very young ball-players, as versus the hand of a full-adult pro/ball-player.

There remain subtle, however vital other differences which are to become herein more evident and understood as important improvements. For example, FIG.-4 shows how by virtue of finger-hole 14′ anchoring of the pad-body 13 to user's forefinger 21′, the bolster 19 portion becomes naturally lodged in position between conventional bat-handle 10 and the base-region 21B of batter's upper-hand; thereby shielding the sensitive web region 21M spanning between thumb 21 and forefinger 21′ (although normally covered by skin-tissue which is removed here, revealing the underlaying APT/Abductor-Pollicis-Trans muscle) 21M from dreaded bat-sting. However, orientation of my 1-finger version in FIG.-2A is necessarily reliant upon the friction-fit of the elastic pad material surround alone, while my 2-finger version in FIG.-3 has the advantage of providing absolute positive orientation (will not rotate in azimuth about the forefinger) relative to the APT 20M.

Study of FIG.-4 serves to graphically demonstrate how my longitudinally abbreviated 1-finger Mk-II bolster 19′ configuration, and elongate 2-finger configuration 19″, act to advance per ref.-‘X’ the swing stroke position of the bat's longitudinal-axis 10′ approximately 1½-degrees to 3-degrees (given a normal hand grip usage, and dependent upon the diameter and compliance resilience of the bolster). This advantageous function is shown measured as an angle-of-incidence of displacement from the bat's basic longitudinal-axis 10″ poised perpendicularly, at a right-angle relative to the batter's upper-hand forearm-axis 20; and by way of comparison, represents the basic position of the bat's longitudinal-axis 10′ without use of my grip-pad aid, while the longitudinal-axis 10″ represents the approximate displacement of the bat's longitudinal-axis when either of my Mk-II grip-pad's 12′/12″ are being worn upon batter's upper-hand 20′. Hence, it is to be understood that when a batter swings their bat while wearing my Mk-II grip-pad 12′/12″, the pitched-ball 22 actually approaches the batter's strike-zone 22′ (transverse-line on action ref.-arrow) above the batting-plate (not shown) during an earlier sequence of the batter's swing, as compared to the same situation without use of my grip-pad. Accordingly, in the stage of the batter's swing wherein they break from the basic poise of their bat, and commences to rotate their wrists at a point approximately above the batting-plate as is exemplified in FIG.-4, it is herein postulated that the bat has actually traveled slightly further through the hitting-zone than if my device were not employed. Moreover, by optimizing this advanced displacement of the bat-handle 10 poised in the batter's hands, the batter is thereby enabled to swing at an enhanced angle through the hitting-zone 22′ (action Ref.-arrow), thereby serving to improve the batter's physical leverage, resulting in increased bat-speed, which equates to greater power potential to send a ‘well hit ball’ (ie: on the so called sweet-spot of the bat-barrel) further, yet with better control, —according to batter testimonials. Note also, that this function is in addition to the rebounding-effect discussed earlier in the summary-section hereof.

Instead of the herein preceding considered ‘standard’ closed-celled foam-core type of resilient insert-cushion 16 (which can be molded/extruded in various compliance durometers), in FIG.-5 is shown an alternate imperforately sealed somewhat balloon like fluid-medium filled resilient capsule like insert-cushion 18, having an approximately 1/32-inch to 1/16-inch thickness flexile-polymer wall-structure 17′ (ie: such as of tough urethane-resin material) forming the internal spatial confine 17″, wherein the contained fluid can either be ‘pneumatic’ (by containing a compressive gas such as air, nitrogen, —etc.) or ‘hydraulic’ (a non-compressive liquid such as a saline-solution of water/H2O); either medium usage being according to user preference and engineering-design choice. While the pneumatic embodiment is advantageously lighter-weight and exhibits a substantially greater degree of cushioning compliance than the hydraulic version (for a given wall-thickness), the hydraulic version naturally relies upon the inherent elastic quality of the wall-structure 17′ when subjected to momentary compressive-loads; while both of these embodiments can be made to different longitudinal lengths and diameters (—ranging between ⅜-inch to ¾-inch) for selective interchangeable employment as an insert-cushion 17 within the elastic receiver-sleeve 15 of either my FIG.-2A and FIG.-3 grip-pad embodiments as a substitute for the generally foam-polymer or foam-elastomer insert-cushion indicated as 16 (or 16′/16″). Accordingly the length options of this fluid type insert-cushion capsule 17 are regarded as equivalent to that set forth for the standard insert-cushion (16/16′/16″).

In FIG.-6 is shown a more elaborate variable-compliance iteration of my preceding ultimately simple capsule 17 like insert-cushion, here a hybrid embodiment pump equipped capsule 18, in which one end of the FIG.-5 capsule is left open, and the flexile wall material 17′ is ultra-sonically permanently bonded to the rigid cylinder-wall insert 18′, thereby forming a pressure-chamber 18C′ which can be readily inflated as desired by the user, even while at bat if desired! To operate, user removes the standard insert-cushion 16 from the receiver-sleeve 15 of their Mk-II grip-pad 12′/12″, and inserts this special pump capsule 18, leaving the approximately ½-inch rigid pumping portion extending either well upward or well below the receiver-sleeve's terminuses 15′ and 15″ respectively. The user then can finger depress pushbutton portion 18″ several times to attain degree of air-pressure desired within the pressure-chamber 18C′. Being that the annular pushbutton 18″ is preferably injection-molded plastic formed integrally with the piston-body portion 18# (having integrally-molded feather-edged flange-seal portion 18S), each stroke of the (ref.-action of large white-arrow, whilst the large black-arrow represents the default return-stroke biasing-action of pushbutton 18″) piston-body 18# forces air passed the rubber flapper-valve 18V′ into the pressure-chamber 18C′ on other side of bulkhead 18B, while conical check-valve 18V″ necessarily becomes seated (to maintain air within anti-chamber 18C″ for compression purposes). If the user senses an excessive firmness of the flexile wall 17′, the user merely depresses the conical check-valve 18V″ briefly with the tip of their fingernail (while depressing pushbutton 18#), thus moving the relief-plunger 18P to open flap-valve 18V′ thereby releasing captive air-pressure to the extent desired.

In FIG.-7 is shown a human-hand wherein the skin-tissue has been removed to reveal the underlaying tendons and musculature. As has been stated herein, an important function of this invention disclosure is to facilitate improved protection of the web region identified as the APT/abductor-pollicis-trans muscle 21M, which spans between the batter's thumb 21 and their forefinger 21′.

Thus, it is readily understood how the preferred and generic-variant embodiments of this invention contemplate performing functions in a novel way not heretofore available nor realized. It is implicit that the utility of the foregoing adaptations of this invention are not necessarily dependent upon any prevailing invention patent; and, while the present invention has been well described hereinbefore by way of certain illustrated embodiments, it is to be expected that various changes, alterations, rearrangements, and obvious modifications may be resorted to by those skilled in the art to which it relates, without substantially departing from the implied spirit and scope of the instant invention. Therefore, the invention has been disclosed herein by way of example, and not as imposed limitation, while the appended Claims set out the scope of the invention sought, and are to be construed as broadly as the terminology therein employed permits, reckoning that the invention verily comprehends every use of which it is susceptible. Accordingly, the embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or proprietary privilege is claimed, are defined as follows.