US 20040242352 A1
A portable, modular, and durable pitching mound to be used both indoors and outdoors. Embodiments include a support surface and a plurality of mound segments which may be reversibly attached in order to form a complete pitching mound, and optionally, an anchoring apparatus used to stabilize the present invention. Support ribs are contained within each mound segment to provide structural integrity. The pitching mound is meant to increase the efficiency of baseball games and practice, and to conserve recreational and interscholastic resources.
1. A modular, portable pitching mound comprising:
a plurality of substantially hollow pitching mound segments which, in an assemblage of said pitching mound segments, defines a substantially circular base surface and a convex upper surface, each said mound segment having a mound segment base surface, a mound segment upper surface, and a plurality of support means extending between said mound segment base surface and said mound segment upper surface, and wherein each said mound segment has mound segment mating means, said mound segment mating means being configured for reversible, mechanical attachment with adjoining said mound segments to secure said plurality of mound segments in said assemblage.
2. The modular, portable pitching mound of
a pitcher support surface sized and shaped for overlapping said attached pitching mound segments, wherein said support surface is sized and shaped to nestingly engage the assemblage of said attached pitching mound segments substantially at the vertical axis of symmetry of said assemblage.
3. The modular, portable pitching mound of
an anchor means whereby said portable pitching mound is secured in a fixed position relative to the playing surface by said anchor means
4. The modular, portable pitching mound of
an anchor means whereby said portable pitching mound is secured in a fixed position relative to the playing surface by said anchor means.
 In the drawings and the description that follows, referring to FIG. 1, the portable pitching mound of the present invention is generally designated by the reference numeral 10. The portable pitching mound is a generally circular, convex shell-like structure which includes a removable support surface 11 and reversibly attachable mound segments 12, 13, 14 and 15.
 Referring principally to FIG. 2, each mound segment contains a mound segment base surface 21, a mound segment top surface 22, a mound segment peripheral flange 23, a plurality of mound segment support ribs 24, and mound segment side walls 25.
 Pitching mound 10 optionally includes an anchor apparatus (to be discussed below).
 In the preferred embodiment, pitching mound 10 consists of ABS plastic. ABS plastic is durable enough to withstand the forces manually exerted by competitors and to withstand the rigors of being moved, is flexible enough to avoid fracturing under normal playing conditions, is lightweight enough to allow both children and adults to move the device without assistance from others, and is weather-resistant. Certainly, one could easily envision same device made of other materials such as fiberglass, low-density wood, or some other plastic compound, but in light of the factors above, ABS plastic is the preferred manufacturing material.
 Referring to FIG. 1, the mound segments are assembled to form a circular, shell-like structure comprised of a complete top surface 16, a complete bottom surface 17, a complete peripheral flange 18 and a complete set of support ribs 19. Said mound segments are joined together or secured to each other along a seam that extends radially between the vertical axis of symmetry of pitching mound 10 and the peripheral flange. Preferably, said mound segments are secured along said radial seam by overlaying support surface 11 centrally located about the vertical axis of symmetry of pitching mound 10. Other embodiments allow each mound segment to have a vertical outer edge which mates with a vertical outer edge of adjacent mound segments where corresponding holes are spaced along each outer vertical edge so that conventional fastening means such as bolts, washers, and nuts may be used to secure said mound segments together along said radial seams. Certainly, one could imagine embodiments providing for top surface Velcro fastening strips or top surface-mounted nut and bolt securing means, but the preferred embodiment eliminates the need for small parts and affords simplicity.
 Complete top surface 16 is formed by the joining of generally convex mound segments contoured so that upon assembly the complete top surface duplicates the shape and dimension associated with a traditional pitchers mound. Specifically, the complete top surface contains a level area centered about the vertical axis of symmetry of pitching mound 10 that provides a foundation for said support surface. From said level area, the complete top surface tapers downwardly toward the peripheral flange as prescribed by the regulations of the game. A slope of approximately 1″/12″ is preferred, although one can easily imagine a top surface of different slopes to better suit the size and ability of different players. Top surface 16, in the preferred embodiment, contains shallow grooves, or rigidity troughs 26, which are formed in each top surface 22 of each segment 12, 13, 14 or 15 to provide rigidity as against the weight of a player. Troughs 26 extend from the center in a radial direction towards the peripheral flange. In addition to surface rigidity, troughs 26 also provide traction for the pitcher, as well as collection points for dirt, mud, or any moisture.
 One could easily imagine different traction mechanisms, such as textured surface material, a frictional adhesive, or any frictional material that may be reversibly attached to said top surface and later removed. However, the shallow grooves 26 extending from the center in a radial direction are preferred due to their effectiveness and the elimination of any additional parts or components.
 Also, particular embodiments may contain concave depression points centered about a midpoint of a radial line extending between the center point and the peripheral flange in the top surface. These depressions provide footholds for pitchers and vary in dimension according to the age and size of the individual competitors intended to use a particular model. However, because of simplicity and similar effectiveness, the preferred embodiment does not contain said depression points.
 Complete bottom surface 17 is formed by the assembly of said mound segments 12, 13, 14 and 15. The bottom surface 17 rests flatly on the horizon and provides a uniform base for the support ribs 24 and side walls 25. Referring to FIG. 3, said support ribs 24 extend from said bottom surface to said top surface. Said support ribs 24 are arranged along a circular direction and are spaced at different circumference intervals so as to provide uniform support throughout pitching mound 10.
 Pitching mound 10 optionally includes an anchor apparatus. In the preferred embodiment, such an anchor apparatus consists of a rubber material fitted between pitching mound 10 and the playing surface. The anchor apparatus is envision as being most beneficial when pitching mound 10 is used indoors, that is, when pitching mound 10 is most likely to slide on the artificial playing surface.
 Certainly one could envision other anchoring means such as a plurality of weights placed about the perimeter of pitching mound 10 where the weights are contoured to fit against the perimeter of pitching mound 10, or spikes driven into the ground around the perimeter of pitching mound 10, or an adhesive material placed between pitching mound 10 and the playing surface. But, the rubber-like anchor apparatus as described is preferred because of its durability, its ability to be reused, low maintenance, and elimination of small component parts.
 It is believed that, while simple and relatively inexpensive, the present device will obviate significant inconvenience and provide substantial utility to those who play, practice, or coach the game of baseball.
 Specifically, the present device will allow competitors to play on virtually any playing surface and will make the game itself easier to practice.
 Although the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, this description is not meant to be construed in a limited sense. Various modifications of the disclosed embodiments, as well as alternative embodiments of the inventions will become apparent to person skilled in the art upon the reference to the description of the invention. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims will cover such modification that fall within the scope of the invention.
FIG. 1 is an assembly view of the portable pitching mound of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a top view of a mound segment in an unattached position.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an area taken about the longitudinal axis of symmetry of the portable pitching mound.
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention is directed towards an apparatus for improving the quality and efficiency of baseball games and baseball practices thereby promoting competition making the game available to more competitors and coaches. Specifically, the invention relates to a pitching mound which is easy to move yet durable and effective.
 2. Background Information
 Baseball is most often played and practiced on traditional baseball diamonds; this is so because these are the only locations where suitable or standard pitching mounds can be found. However, the present device provides a means by which a baseball team or individual player can play or practice almost anywhere.
 The present device is lightweight and can be moved to any type of playing surface. This invention will be particularly useful during adverse weather conditions where a team may be forced to practice indoors. Also, this invention will allow a team or individual to conduct more beneficial practice sessions. For example, the present invention allows a team to employ the use of more than one pitching mound at a time during practice thereby allowing separate practice groups to conduct identical, simultaneous practice activity.
 Traditionally, baseball diamonds and softball diamonds have been required to be constructed on separate parcels of land due to the fact that baseball diamonds require elevated pitching mounds whereas softball diamonds do not. The present invention provides a device which eliminates the need to construct baseball and softball diamonds in separate locations. In light of the present invention, a baseball diamond can easily be converted into a softball diamond simply be removing the present device from the field of play. Likewise, a softball diamond can be converted into a baseball diamond by simply inserting the present device into the field of play. The increase in efficiency, the convenience of a central location, and the conservation of recreational and interscholastic resources is easily seen from the use of the present invention.
 Furthermore, a truly portable pitching mound, such as that of the present invention, can be moved from one distance to another from the batter's position, such as to accommodate play by differing age groups, which may require different such distances.
 Portable pitching mounds are known in the art; however, these pitching mounds are fraught with several inconveniences that are eliminated by the present invention.
 Typical, so-called portable pitching mounds are filled with hundreds of pounds of dirt or clay that in fact make them not really portable at all. In order for these mounds to be moved they require someone to remove the dirt or clay or must be moved by heavy machinery such as a forklift. The present invention is made of a lightweight yet durable material that allows for easy transport. Further, assembly is straightforward thereby allowing virtually anyone to take advantage of the present device without the assistance of others. In fact, coaches and players of all sizes and capabilities will be able to quickly move the present invention to a desired location.
 It would well serve those who conduct or take part in baseball games or practices to provide something which is easily moveable, durable and both effective and highly cost-effective that will increase the efficiency in playing or practicing baseball and promote the conservation of recreational and interscholastic resources.
 In view of the foregoing, it is an object of the present invention to provide a device which allows the game of baseball to be played or practiced in locations beyond traditional baseball diamonds.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a device which allows the game of baseball to be practiced or played both indoors and outdoors.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a device which allows baseball practice sessions to be conducted more efficiently.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a device which allows both softball games and baseball games to be played on the same field.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that is easily moved from one location to another.
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a device that is easily assembled and disassembled
 It is another object of the present invention to provide a device which is lightweight yet durable.
 It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a device which can be fully used by competitors of all sizes and abilities.
 In satisfaction of these and related object, the present invention provides a simple, effective, durable, and easily portable device which affords a baseball competitor or coach a simple and time effective method to assemble and move a pitchers mound. As will be detailed in the specification to follow, any embodiment of the present invention simply involves a plurality of reversibly attachable mound segments so contoured that when assembled, serve the same function as a traditional pitchers mound. Optionally, an anchor apparatus may be used to enhance the effectiveness of the present device.
 Embodiments of the present invention are envisioned as being most beneficial in the context of practicing or playing the game of baseball and converting a baseball diamond into a softball diamond and vice versa.