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Numéro de publicationUS2921574 A
Type de publicationOctroi
Date de publication19 janv. 1960
Date de dépôt29 mars 1957
Date de priorité29 mars 1957
Numéro de publicationUS 2921574 A, US 2921574A, US-A-2921574, US2921574 A, US2921574A
InventeursHachio Saito
Cessionnaire d'origineHachio Saito
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
Pitching machines
US 2921574 A
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Description  (Le texte OCR peut contenir des erreurs.)

Jan. 19, 1960 HACHIO SAITO 2,921,574

PITCHING MACHINES Filed March 29, 1957 4 Sheets-Sheet 1 Jan. 19, 1960 cl-uo s o 2,921,574

PITCHING MACHINES Filed March 29, 1957 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Jan. 19, 1960 c o s o 2,921,574

PITCHING MACHINES Filed March 29, 1957 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Fig. 4

Jan. 19, 1960 HACHIO sAlTo 2,921,574

P'ITCHING MACHINES Filed March 29, 1957 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 2,921,574 PITCHING MACHINES Hachio Saito, Kamakura, Japan Application March .29, 1957, Serial No. 649,419 '3 Claims. Cl. 124-29) This invention relates to a machine for pitching a ball to a batter for baseball practice, and catcher means for grasping and releasing a ball housing member used in the machine.

If a pitcher hurls balls to many batters successively in baseball practice, he will tire and also the force at which the balls are hurled will vary. Accordingly, a number of different types of pitching machines have been proposed to overcome such problems. Such machines, however, comprise complicated mechanisms and therefore are too expensive to be generally employed.

The present invention overcomes the above disadvantages in the conventional machine of this kind and 1S concerned with an improved pitching machine which is relatively simple, low in cost and safe in operation and which can be used to hurl liners and balls having different characteristics. I

The present invention also is concerned with an improved catcher means for grasping and releasing aball housing member which is safe in operation.

A primary object of the invention is to provide a pitchmg machine comprising a discharge unit for discharging a ball and a support unit for supporting said discharge unit. The discharge unit includes a compression spring member, tensioning means operable by virtue of the tenslle force caused by said compression spring member, control means for controlling the tensile force, first rail means, a ball housing member adapted to slide on said first rail means by means of said tensioning means, discharge lever means, catcher means adapted to catch said ball housing member at an advanced position thereof to move said ball housing member by means of said discharge lever, gear and chain means, manual driving means operatively connected to said catcher means through said gear and chain means, and stopper means for locking said manual driving means when said catcher means releases said ball housing member, whereby a ball disposed in said ball housing member positioned. at the discharge position may be discharged by the high speed forward movement of said ball housing member caused by the combination of releasing said catcher means for said ball housing member by virtue of operation of said discharge lever means and the tensioningoperation of said tensioning means for the ball housing member by virtue of a restoration force of said compression spring means.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said catcher means includes a frame, a connecting member, one end of said connecting member connected to said frame rotatably but immobile in its longitudinal direction and the other end thereof being connected to one end of the chain, a pair of pawls pivotably mounted to said frame, an element provided in said frame relatively movably to said frame by virtue of the operation of the discharge lever means, a pair of links, each end of each of said links being pivotably connected to the end of said element and the middle of each of said pawls, respectively, the opposite ends of said pawls being adapted to be closed and opened by the rearward States Patent and forward movements of said element relative to said frame so as to grasp and release said ball housing member, respectively.

- Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said discharge unit further comprises a second rail means arranged below and substantially parallel to said first rail means, a cam arranged below said first rail means and in front of said second rail means, and a movable rail device consisting of a block having a cylindrical chamber and a slot, a compression spring in said cylindrical chamber, and a movable rail member having a bracket and a cylindrical part, said cylindrical part being adapted to be guided in said cylindrical chamber and said' rail member being adapted to be guided in said slot; and in which said catcher means includes a frame having a downward projecting bracket, a connecting member, one end of said connecting member being connected to said frame rotatably but unmovably in its longitudinal direction and the other end thereof being connected to one end of the chain, a pair of pawls pivotably mounted to said frame, a hollow element provided in said frame relatively movably to said frame and having a closed end, a pair of links, each end of each of said links being pivotably connected to the end of said hollow element and the middle of each of said pawls, respectively, the opposite ends of said pawls being adapted to be closed and opened by the rearward and forward-movements of said hollow element relative to said frame so as to grasp and release said ball'housing member, respectively, a plunger disposed slidably in the hollow of said hollow element, a first lever pivotably mounted to said downward projecting bracket, one end of said first'lever operatively connected to' said plunger and the other end thereof being provided with a roller, said one end of said first lever also being operatively connected to said hollow element through the intermediate of a mechanism for loose motion, a second lever pivotablymounted to said downward projecting bracket, one end of said second lever operatively connected to said hollow element and the other end thereof being provided with a roller, a compression spring in a space between the bottom of said hollow and the front end of the plunger, said plunger being movable in opposite directions by meansof both of said compression spring in the hollow and said discharge lever means; whereby, first, when said catcher means. is positioned at its discharge position and said discharge lever means is operated, said roller of said first lever pushes rearward said bracket of said movable rail member against said spring in said cylindrical chamber of saidmovable rail device by the forward movement of said plunger to establish a gap between the rear end of second rail means and said movable rail member while maintaining said hollow element in its normal position and then said roller of said second lever passes down through the gap by the forward movement of said hollow element caused by the further forward movement of said plunger; second, when the operation of said discharge lever means is released, said roller of said first lever is returned to its normal position by means of said spring in said cylindrical chamber of said movable rail device without moving rearward said hollow element by virtue of said mechanism for loose motion to close the gap; and, third, when said catcher means is advanced to its advanced position by means of the manual driving means and gear and chain means to grasp the ball housing member by the pair of pawls, said roller of said second lever is raised by means of said cam to cause the rearward movement of said hollow element whereby to close the opposite ends of said pawls.

-Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which, when said catcher means are being retracted to the discharge position while catching the ball housing member, the roller of said second lever is guided on said second rail means so as not to fall thereby to prevent any spontaneous discharge due to incidental opening of the pawls.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said ball housing member is connected to a wire rope included in the tensioning means.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said ball housing member is provided with ball pushing-out means adapted to be moved in accordance with variation in the direction of tensioning said wire rope.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said ball housing member is provided with means for controlling the ball-grasping force. The means for controlling ball-grasping force being arranged to cooperate with said ball pushing-out means to impart to a ball different force of rotation.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said chain for connecting said manual driving means to said ball housing member is capable of curving only toward one side thereof.

Anotherobject of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which there is provided a signal device adapted to operate in connection with the operation of said discharge lever means.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which the discharge unit is arranged to be rotatable about its axis.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said discharge unit is connected to said support unit for supporting said discharge unit rotatably about the axis of said support unit.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said support unit for supporting said discharge unit includes means for varying the height of the machine.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitching machine in which said support unit for supporting said discharge unit includes means for varying the level of the machine.

Another object of the invention is to provide a pitch ing machine in which said support unit for supporting said discharge unit includes means for varying both the height and level of the machine.

A further object of the invention is to provide catcher means for grasping and releasing a ball housing member which comprises a frame, a connecting member, one end of said connecting member being connected to said frame rotatably but unmovably in its longitudinal direction, a pair of pawls pivotably mounted to said frame, an element provided in said frame relatively movably to said frame, a pair of links, each end of each of'said links being pivotably connected to the end of said element and the middle of each of said pawls, respectively, whereby the opposite ends of said pawls may be closed and opened by the rearward and forward movements 'of said element relative to said frame so as to grasp and release said ball housing member, respectively.

A further object of the invention is to provide catcher means for grasping and releasing a ball housing member which comprises a frame, a connecting member, one end of said connecting member being connected to said frame rotatably but unmovably in its longitudinal direction, a pair of pawls pivotably mounted to said frame, a hollow element provided in said frame relatively movably to said frame and having a closed end, a pair of links, each end of each of said links being pivotably connected to the end of said hollow element and the middle of each of said pawls, respectively, the opposite ends of said pawls being adapted to be closed and openedby .the rearward and forward movements of said 'hollow element relative to said frame so as to grasp and release said ball housing member, respectively, a plunger disposed slidably in the hollow of said hollow element, .a' first lever pivotably mounted to said downward projecting bracket, one end of said first lever operatively connected to said plunger and the other end thereof being provided with a roller, said one end of said first lever also being operatively connected to said hollow element through the intermediate of a mechanism for loose motion, a second lever pivotably mounted to said downward projecting bracket, one end of said second lever operatively connected to said hollow element and the other end thereof being provided with a roller, a compression spring in a space between the bottom of said hollow and the front end of the plunger, said plunger being movable in opposite directions by means of both of said compression spring in the hollow and said discharge lever means.

Other objects of the invention will be apparent from the following description and the accompanying drawings in which:

Fig. l is a perspective view of a pitching machine according to the present invention;

Fig. 2 is a fragmentary perspective view of a channel member, illustrating first, second and movable rail means and a cam;

Fig, 3 is a perspective view of a catcher for grasping and releasing a ball housing;

Fig. 4 is a side view of a frame of the catcher shown in the direction of arrow A in Fig. 3;

Fig. 5 is a perspective view of the first lever of the catcher;

Fig. 6 is a perspective view of the second lever of the catcher;

Fig. 7 is a fragmentary perspective view of a chain to be connected to the catcher;

Fig. 8 is a perspective view of the ball housing;

Fig. 9 is a perspective view of a tensioning device for causing the ball housing to slide;

Figs. 10 to 13, inclusive, are diagrammatical side views of the essential parts of the machine for explaining the operations effected in successive stages between preparation and completion of discharging a ball;

Figs. 14 to 16, inclusive, are side views of the catcher, partially in section, illustrating a series of the operations effected on discharging a ball;

Fig. 17 is a schematic elevation view showing the operation of the signal device; and

Fig. 18 is a schematic side view of the ball housing for explaining how a ball can be pitched with rotational forces imparted thereto.

One embodiment of the present invention will now be described in conjunction with the accompanying drawmgs.

Fig. 1 shows a pitching machine according to the invention which consists of a discharge unit 1 for discharging a ball and a support unit 2 for positioning and supporting the discharge unit 1 at any site with any azimuth, altitude and level determined as desired.

Thedischarge unit 1 is constructed as follows:

A bed Shaving an I cross-section is provided at both ends with bearings 4 and 5. The bearing 4 is annular, and both bearings are supported in such a manner that they can rotate a channel member 6 carrying various parts aboutthe longitudinal axis thereof. The bearing 5 is provided at each side with a clamping lever 7 for fixing the channel member 6 in position. At the rear end of the channel member 6 is secured an end block 9 having grip 8 for rotating the channel member, and an opening 10 extending through the end block 9 communicates with a central bore (not shown) in the bearing 5. As shown in Figs. land 2, a pair of first rails 11, 11' are oppositely secured on the upper edges of both inner surfaces of the channel member 6. Each of the first rails is provided on the side with a groove 12 in which respective wheels 15 and 16 of a ball housing or carriage 13 and its catcher 14 (see Figs. 3 and 8) are disposed for sliding and rolling. Accordingly, the ball housing 13 and the catcher 14 canbe slidably disposed in the channel member 6.

A tensioning device 17 as shown in Fig. 9 is accommodated within the channel member 6 and is connected to the ball housing 13 as shown in Fig. 1, approximately a part of a controllable pulley 18 forming a part of this device 17 and a handle 19 for controlling the pulley 18 project beyond one side surface of the channel member 6. A spring casing 20 is provided on said one side surface of the channel member 6. As shown in Fig. 9, the pulley 18 is mounted on a shaft 21 through the lower portion of which a screw rod 23 threads. The rod 23 can be rotated by the control handle 19 through a bevel gear device 22. This arrangement makes it possible to move the controllable pulley 18 within a slot 24 (Fig. 1) disposed on the side of the channel member 6 to vary a tensile force of a spring 25 by the medium of a Wire rope 26 and to control a speed at which the ball housing 13 is moved. A pulley 27 is supported by a bracket 28 secured to the upper side of the bottom of the channel member 6, and between the pulley 27 and a movable pulley 29 is stretched a wire rope 30 which has one end connected to the bracket 28 and the other end connected to the ball housing 13. Also, one end of the wire rope 26 is connected to the movable pulley 29 and the other end is connected through the controllable pulley 18 to an end plate 31 which is pressed against an end of a spring 25 disposed in the casing 20.

As shown in Fig. 8, the ball housing 13 is composed of a frame 34 having a pair of shafts 32 and 33, each comprising wheels 15, 15 at its ends, two pairs of ball-grasping fingers 35, 35 and 36, 36, each projecting forward, and a ball ejection device 37 of bell crank type.

One pair of the upper arms 35, 35 are associated with a bolt 38 the end portions of which are threaded in opposite directions. As the bolt 38 is rotated by rotating a knob 39 mounted on the bolt, the distance between both fingers 35, 35 can be changed to control the ball-grasping force. On the extremities of one pair of the lower arms 36, 36 is secured a cross-piece 40 for holding the distance between these fingers constant.

The rear shaft 33 has an engaging piece 42 mounted on the shaft in the middle portion thereof so as to project rearward and having a sharp end 41 while the front shaft 32 carries the ball ejection device 37 rotatably. The piece 42 is provided on each side with a recess or hole 43 in order to allow the catcher 14 to readily grasp the piece. The ball ejection device 37 comprises a hollow cylindrical shaft 44, a bracket 45 integral with the shaft for connecting the wire rope 30 thereto, and a pair of ball push-out arms of circular arc shape 46, 46. The surface of each of the arms 46 to be brought in contact with a ball is formed, for example, in a saw-toothed shape so as to increase friction between the arm surface and the ball.

As shown in Figs. 3, 4 and 14 to 16, inclusive, the catcher 14 comprises a frame 47 consisting of a main body 48 and upper and lower elements 49, 49', two pairs of Wheels 16, 16 for supporting the frame slidably on the first rail 11, 11, and a grasping and releasing device 5t) arranged to the frame 47.

The grasping and releasing device 56 consists of two portions, that is, front and rear portions. The front por tion includes a pair of pawls 51, 51, first and second levers 52, 53 forming a safety device and their associated mechanism.

The rear portion of the grasping and releasing device comprises a connecting member 54 having an upward projecting member 55 and hollow portion 56. The rear end of the connecting member 54 has a longitudinal bore (not shown) for receiving one end of a chain 86, which is connected to the connecting member 54 by means of, for example, a pin (not shown). The front end 57 of the connecting member 54 is of hollowed cylindrical shape and is provided with flanges 58, 58 at both ends thereof. The cylindrical front end 57 is rotatably received in a bore 59 which is formed by securing an element 6!) having a semi-cylindrical recess to the main body 48 of the frame 47 having a semi-cylindrical recess by means of screws. The longitudinal movement of the connecting member 54 relative to the frame 47 is prevented by the flange 58, 58.

The rear portion of the grasping and releasing device 50 further comprises an arm 61 rotatably mounted to the upward projecting member 55 by means of a pivot 62 and a plunger 63 having a traversely hollowed head 64. The hollow of the head 64 receives one end of the arm 61.

The associated mechanism of the front portion of the grasping and releasing device 56 includes a hollow element 65 for slidably receiving the front portion of the plunger 63. The front end of the hollow element 65 is closed and a compression spring 66 is stored in the space between the bottom of the hollow of the element 65 and the front end of the plunger 63. The hollow element 65 has an enlarged portion 67 and a projection 68 is provided on each side of the enlarged portion 67 at the diametrically opposite positions. The hollow element 65 also has two longitudinal slots 69, 69, which are provided in the upper and lower walls of the element at the diametrically opposite positions. A ring 76 is slidably mounted around the hollow element 65 and a pin '71 secured to the ring passes through the slots 69, 69 and the hollow of the element 65 at a position between the compression spring 66 and the plunger 63. A projection 72 is provided on each side of the ring 76 at the diametrically opposite positions. The rear end of each of the pawls 51, 51 is pivotably mounted to the frame 47 by means of pivot 73.

Each of a pair of links 74, 74 pivotably connects the front end of the hollow element 65 and the middle of each of the pawls 51, 51, so as to make the opposite front ends of the pawls close and open by rearward and forward movements of the hollow element 65.

The lower element 49 of the frame 47 has a downward projecting bracket 75. The first lever 52 of bell crank type is pivotably mounted to the bracket 75 by means of a pivot '76. One end of the first lever is of forked shape which is operatively connected to the projections 72, 72 of the ring 78 and the other end thereof is provided with a roller 77. The second lever 53 of hell crank type is pivotably mounted to the bracket 75 by means of a pivot 78. One end of the second lever is of forked shape which is operatively connected to the projections 68, 68 of the enlarged portion 67 of the hollow element 65 and the other end thereof is provided with a roller 79.

The adjacent elements of the chain 80 have projecting, abutting surface 81, 82, respectively, as shown in Fig. 7 so that the chain may be curved only in one traverse direction opposite to that provided with said abutting surfaces and accordingly may be pushed along a straight line by using suitable means.

Referring back to Fig. 2 a second rail 83 is mounted to one of the inner surfaces of the sides of the channel member 6 below the first rail 11. The second rail 83 is shorter than the first rail 11 and has a cross-section of L shape. While the roller 77 of the first lever 52 is arranged to roll only on the lower side of the rail 83, the roller 79 of the second lever 53 is capable of rolling on both upper and lower sides of the rail. A cam 84 is rigidly secured to one of the inner surfaces of the sides of the channel member 6 in front of the second rail 83. The cam 84 is adapted to guide the second roller 79 from the lower level to the upper. Behind the second rail 83 is provided a movable rail device 85 which comprises a block 86 secured to one side of the bed 3 and having a cylindrical chamber 87 and a slot 88, a compression spring 89 in the chamber 87 and a movable rail member 99 having a rail part 91, a cylindrical part 92 adapted to be reciprocally moved in the chamber 87 and a bracket 93. The rail part 91, cylindrical part 92 and bracket 93 are formed integrally. As shown in Figs. 2 and 14, the rail part 91 normally protrudes to a position adjacent the rear end of the second rail 83 by action of the spring 89. With the first roller 77 pushing the bracket 83 rearward, the rail part 91 is moved towards the chamber 87 to be removed from the second rail 83 (see Fig. 16).

As shown in Fig. 1, a discharge lever 94 is rotatably mounted on an axle 95 secured to the brackets 96 of the bearing 5. The lever 94 has a lower end capable of pressing a discharge bar 97 (see Fig. 14). This bar extends through the opening (not shown) in the bearing and through the opening in the end block 9 of the channel member 6 and normally held at a rearward position thereof by means of a spring 98.

As shown in Figs. 1 and 17, a pulley 99 is secured to the axle 95 of the discharge lever 94 at its end. On the back side of the channel member 6 in Fig. 1, there are provided two guide pulleys 190, 1.01 below the pulley 99. On the back side, there is provided a discharge indicator 102, pivotably about a pivot 103, near the bearing 4. The discharge indicator is connected to a rotatable shaft 104 by means of links 195, 106. The shaft 104 is provided with a small gear 197 adapted to be rotated in accordance with the rotation of the shaft 104. Below the shaft 104 is provided another rotatable shaft 108 to which a small pulley 169 and a large gear 11!) are secured. A wire rope 111 is arranged to operatively connect the pulley 99 and the small pulley 109 and also a chain 112 is arranged to operatively connect the large and small gears 110, 197. Therefore, when the discharge lever 94 is rotated rearward (counterclockwise in Fig. 17), the pulley 99 rotates counterclockwise, which causes the clockwise rotation of the small pulley 199, which in turn causes the clockwise rotation of the small gear 197 so that the discharge indicator 162 rotates clockwise or forward. When the discharge lever 94 is returned to its original position, the discharge indicator 192 returns to its original vertical position.

The chain 39 having one end secured to the catcher 14 passes through a guide gear 114 positioned in a chain casing 113 mounted at the rear part of the bearing 5 and after meshing a gear 115, extends forward in another chain casing (not shown) disposed on the lower side of the bed 3. The casing 113 is provided with a stop 116 engaging the guide gear 114 to prevent the same from rotation or to prevent the chain from moving. The stop 116 can be actuated by means of a lever 117 projecting beyond the side of the casing 113. The gear 115 is connected through a shaft 118 to a pair of handles or wheels 119, each disposed on either side of 'the machine. The catcher 14 can be moved by manually rotating the wheels 119. if desired, the discharge unit 1 may be provided with a cover 120.

Reference will be now made in conjunction with the support unit 2 for positioning and supporting the discharge unit 1 described above.

The support unit 2 comprises a stand 121 and a tripod 122. The stand 121 comprises a base 123, a pair of upright members 124 rigidly secured to the base 123 at opposite positions and a vertical shaft 125 extending downward from the lower side of the base 123. The bed 3 is secured to the stand 121 at the top of the upright members 124 by means of the bolt 126. The lower side of the bed 3 is provided with a quadrant sector 127 having a circular arc-like opening 128. A threaded bolt 129 is provided through the opening 123 and a bore 130 in one of the upright members 124 and a lever 131 is screwed on the threaded end of the bolt 129 so that the bed 3 or the discharge unit 1 may be held at any desired angle to the horizon or at any altitude by holding the upright member 124 and the quadrant sector 127 together by rotating the lever 131 about the bolt 129. The top portion 132 of the tripod 122 includes a slotted collar 133 secured thereon and a vertical hollow for receiving the vertical shaft 125 of the stand 121. The vertical shaft 125 is provided with a vertical rack (not shown) adapted to be engaged with a pinion (not shown) secured to an end of a shaft 134 rotatably mounted to the base 123, the other end of the shaft 134 having a wheel 135, whereby the level of the machine may be controlled by rotating the wheel 135. The collar 133 is provided with a pair of radial projections (not shown) at opposite slots and through which projections a threaded rod (not shown) secured to a lever 136 at its end passes, whereby the discharge unit 1 may be set at any azimuth by tightening the slitted collar 133 and the vertical shaft 125 by rotating the lever 136 in a suitable direction.

The front leg 137 of the tripod 122 is provided with a roller 138 and a stabilizing pin 139. This pin can be moved vertically by means of a threaded device with a handle 149. When this pin is pushed in the ground, the tripod 122 is prevented from being moved even on discharging a ball. A pair of rear legs 141, 141 are provided with respective rollers 142 rotatably mounted thereon. Coupled with the roller 138 of the front leg 137, the rollers 141 facilitate movement of the pitching machine. In order to stabilize the tripod 122 on discharging a ball, each of the rear legs 141 comprises a stabilizing plate 143 adapted to be turned below the roller 142 about a pivot 144 by operation of a lever 145.

The operation of the machine referred above is now to be described.

When the machine is not brought in a ready condition, the essential parts are in a condition shown schematically in Fig. 10. In order to readily understand the operation, the controllable pulley 18 which is positioned horizontally is shown as being vertically positioned in Figs. 10 to 14, inclusive.

In the condition shown in Fig. 10, the compression spring 25 stretches from end to end of the spring cas ing 20 within the same so that the wire rope 26 draws the movable pulley 29 toward the right-handed side in the drawing, that is rearward in the machine. For this reason, the wire. rope 30 also draws the ball housing 13 up to the position most adjacent to the pulley 27. The catcher 14 is at a rearward position and the roller 79 is below the movable rail part 91. Therefore, the hollow element is held at the advanced position relative to the connecting member 54. In other words, the pawls 51, 51 are held in an opened condition. In this case, however, the movable rail part 91 is at the advanced position thereof to be adjacent to the second rail 83. This is difierent from the case shown in Fig. 16.

When the handles 119 of the manual driving means are now rotated counterclockwise, the gear 115 is rotated to deliver the chain 81) upwards. As described previously, the chain is arranged to curve only toward one side thereof. Accordingly, that portion of the chain in the channel member 6 is in the stretched condition by virtue of its own weight and pushes out the catcher 14 forward without the chain being bent. As the catcher 14 is advanced, the second roller 79 engages with the cam 84 and is guided on the same to rotate the second lever 53 clockwise. Accordingly, the second lever 53 retreats the hollow element 65 by means of the projections 68. At this instant, the catcher 14 reaches the engaging piece 42 of the ball housing and closes the opened ends of the pawls 51, 51 which, in turn, grasp the ball housing 13. This condition is shown in Fig. 11.

If the handles 119 are now rotated clockwise, the second roller 79 which has been above the second rail 83 slides rearward on the upper side of the same in that condition. Therefore, the catcher 14 is returned to the discharge position. During this return operation the catcher holds on to the ball housing. On arriving at the rearward position, the operation of the lever 117 suppresses the guide gear 114 by the medium of the stop 116 and prevents the catcher 14 from moving forward. Fig. 12 shows this condition in which the spring 25 is compressed to the maximum extent and the pulley 29 is at the most advanced position thereof. During and after the movement of the catcher 14, the second and movable rails 83 and 91 prevent the second roller 79' from falling and thereby the second lever 53 can not be rotated counterclockwise about the pivot 78. Therefore, any spontaneous discharge can be perfectly prevented. It is noted that the ball push-out arms 46 are in a condition difierent from those shown in Figs. and 11. In other words, the arms 46 are pushed forward in the condition shown in Figs. 10 and 11, while it falls to the back in the condition shown in Fig. 12. This depends upon the direction of tensioning the wire rope 30. When the condition shown in Fig. 12 is obtained, a ball B is inserted in the housing and is grasped by the four arms 35 and 36. A pressure under which the arms 35 and 36 grasp the ball B can be controlled by operation of the bolt 38 having threaded end portions as shown in Fig. 8. This control in cooperation with the pushout arms 46 can impart to the ball B various forces of rotation as described hereinafter.

If the discharge lever 94 is moved backwards, the discharge bar 97 is advanced and the front end of the bar 97 first pushes the arm 61 of the catcher 14 in the lefthanded direction Figs. 14 and 15 to advance the plunger 63 against the spring 66. Accordingly, the pins 71 and ring 70 are advanced along the slots 69, 69, maintaining the hollow element 65 still immobile thereby to slightly rotate the first lever 52 counterclockwise about the projection 72. The first roller 77 mounted to the lower end of this lever 52 causes the bracket 93 of the movable rail 91 to be moved against the force of the spring 89 (Fig. 2) to establish a gap C between the second and movable rails 83 and 91 through which gap the second roller 79 can be passed.

The discharge bar 97 continues its advance until the head 64 of the plunger 63 pushes the rear end of the hollow element 65. Then, the element 65 is advanced and the pawls 51, 51 are opened, releasing the ball housing 13. At this moment, the second lever 53 is rotated counterclockwise by the medium of the projections 68 disposed on the enlarged portion 68 of the element 65, and the second roller 79 is passed through the gap C just established between the rails. Thus, the roller 79 is brought in a position below the rails. The released ball housing 13 is subjected to the restoration force of the spring 25 through the wire ropes 26 and 30 and strongly drawn at high speed. In this case, the ball housing 13 may be drawn at a speed having twice the restoration speed of the spring 25. Since the wire rope 30 is varied in the tensile direction as the ball housing 13 approaches the pulley 27, the ball push-out arms 46 are rotated counterclockwise to push out the ball B. In this case, the force of rotation to be imparted to the ball B depends upon the force under which the arms 35 grasp the ball. In other words, the stronger the grasp 10 part 91 is advanced until it is brought in contact with the second rail 83. At this moment, the second roller 79 is below the movable rail 91 and therefore the pawls 51, 51 are held in the opened condition.

Pitching may be successively practised by repeating the series of operations described above.

of the ball is, the stronger the force of rotation is. This is apparent from Fig. 18. In addition, the ball housing 13 is advanced beyond the pulley 27 by virtue of its inertia (see Fig. 13). Thus, the push-out arms 46 completely push out the ball B from the arms 35 and 36, and the ball flies to a batter. The arms 46 cause an eifect whereby the ball B has imparted thereto a rotational and is simultaneously accelerated.

When the ball housing 13 spends its inertia, the ball housing 13 is slightly retreated by means of the restoration force of the spring 25 and brought in the position shown in Fig. 10. When the discharge lever 94 is relieved of the applied force, the discharge bar 97 can return back to the original position shown in Fig. 14 by means of the spring 98. Accordingly, the pins 71, the ring 70 and the plunger 63 are retracted from the position shown in Fig. 16 by means of the spring 66 in the hollow element 65. Therefore, the first lever 52 is rotated clockwise to release the applied pressure from the bracket 93. Accordingly, the movable rail A curve can be efiected by imparting to a ball rotation. In order to vary the directions of this curve, the channel member 6 can be rotated in the bearings 4, 5 by using the grips 8, 8. In this case, the rear portion of the catcher 14 connected to the chain unrotatably is not rotated while the frame 47 and the front portion of the catcher is rotated together with the channel member 6.

It is understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiment thereof described hereinbefore and that many modifications and variations can be carried out without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

What I claim:

1. A ball pitching machine comprising, a longitudinally extending support track, a ball-receiving carriage slidably movable on the track from a first forward position to a second rearward position corresponding to a readiness position axially spaced from said first position, means in said carriage operable to a position for automatically ejecting a ball from said carriage when the carriage moves from the rearward position to a preselected forward position different from the first mentioned forward position, a compressible energy-storing element operably connected to the ball-ejecting means for moving the ball-receiving carriage from the rearward position to the preselected position at a preselected velocity and for causing the ball-ejecting means to eject the ball from the carriage at a pre-selected velocity, rotationally operated manual means including means for moving the ball-receiving carriage from the forward position to the rearward position simultaneously compressing the energystorage element, setting the ball-ejecting means in a condition for ejecting the ball from the carriage and selecting said preselected position in dependence upon the compression of said energy-storage element in a single preparatory operation, means cooperative with said manual means for automatically releasably grasping the ballreceiving carriage while in the first mentioned forward position and moving it to said rearward position when said manual means is operated, and means for releasing at will the ball-receiving carriage from the grasping means thereby allowing the compressed energy-storage element to extend and move the carriage forward and cause the throwing of the ball at said preselected forward position.

2. A ball pitching machine accordingto claim 1, in which said carriage comprises four forwardly directed fingers for releasably receiving and gripping a ball, and means to move two of the fingers in a direction toward each other to adjust the force with which said fingers grip a ball.

3. A ball pitching machine according to claim 1, in which said pitching machine is provided with a mount having means for angularly rotating said track on its longitudinal axis and positioning in selected angular positions.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,092,361 Shirn Sept. 7, 1937 2,267,162 Moser Dec. 23, 1941 2,267,163 Moser Dec. 23, 1941 2,646,785 Goldman July 28, 1953 FOREIGN PATENTS 665,518 Great Britain Jan. 23, 1952

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US2646785 *21 nov. 195028 juil. 1953Martin GoldmanBall throwing device
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Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis124/29, 124/17, 124/31
Classification internationaleA63B69/40
Classification coopérativeA63B69/407, A63B2069/402
Classification européenneA63B69/40E