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Número de publicaciónUS20090137350 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 11/944,994
Fecha de publicación28 May 2009
Fecha de presentación26 Nov 2007
Fecha de prioridad26 Nov 2007
Número de publicación11944994, 944994, US 2009/0137350 A1, US 2009/137350 A1, US 20090137350 A1, US 20090137350A1, US 2009137350 A1, US 2009137350A1, US-A1-20090137350, US-A1-2009137350, US2009/0137350A1, US2009/137350A1, US20090137350 A1, US20090137350A1, US2009137350 A1, US2009137350A1
InventoresJason Lenig
Cesionario originalJason Lenig
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Game Ball with Enhanced in Flight Movement
US 20090137350 A1
Resumen
A game ball with a generally spherical inner ball and a cover substantially covering the inner ball. The inner ball has first and second halves divided by an imaginary equatorial plane. There are circumferentially spaced openings in the first half of the inner ball and openings in the cover aligned with the openings in the inner ball. The game ball curves away from the openings when thrown and thus may be used for learning how to throw and hit breaking pitches.
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Reclamaciones(52)
1. A game ball, comprising:
a generally spherical inner ball comprising an equatorial plane defining first and second halves of said inner ball, said first half comprising circumferentially spaced openings; and
a cover substantially covering said inner ball and comprising openings generally aligned with said openings in said first half of said inner ball.
2. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said openings in said cover and said openings in said first half are configured such that when thrown said game ball curves away from said openings in said cover and said openings in said first half.
3. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said cover comprises two surface layers of generally equal size, each of said surface layers comprising generally spherical ends integral with a middle portion having concave sides.
4. The game ball of claim 3, wherein said surface layers comprise peripheral edges joined by stitching.
5. The game ball of claim 4, wherein the game ball is a baseball and there are eight openings in said first half and eight openings in said cover which are spaced between the stitching joining said surface layers.
6. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said openings in said first half and said openings in said cover are generally elliptical.
7. The game ball of claim 6, wherein the major axis of each of said openings in said first half and each of said openings in said cover is approximately one inch and the minor axis of each of said openings in said first half and each of said openings in said cover is approximately one half inch.
8. The game ball of claim 1, wherein the game ball is a baseball.
9. The game ball of claim 8, wherein there are eight equally spaced openings in said cover and eight equally spaced openings in said first half.
10. The game ball of claim 8, wherein there are four equally spaced openings in said cover and four equally spaced openings in said first half.
11. The game ball of claim 8, wherein the game ball weighs approximately between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces.
12. The game ball of claim 8, wherein the game ball has a circumference of approximately between 8.5 to 9.5 inches.
13. The game ball of claim 1, wherein the game ball is a softball.
14. The game ball of claim 13, wherein there are twelve equally spaced openings in said cover and twelve equally spaced openings in said first half.
15. The game ball of claim 13, wherein the game ball weighs approximately between 4.5 to 6.0 ounces.
16. The game ball of claim 13, wherein the game ball has a circumference of approximately between 10.5 to 12.5 inches.
17. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said inner ball comprises a material selected from the group consisting of an elastomer and plastic.
18. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said cover comprises leather.
19. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said inner ball is hollow.
20. The game ball of claim 1, wherein said cover and said inner ball are joined with adhesive.
21. The game ball of claim 1, wherein the bottom of each of said openings in said cover and the bottom of each of said openings in said first half are spaced approximately one quarter inch above the equatorial plane of said inner ball.
22. A method of throwing the game ball of claim 1 with a curved flight path, comprising throwing the game ball such that the game ball curves away from said openings in said cover and said openings in said first half.
23. The method of claim 22, further comprising throwing the game ball to curve from left to right when viewed in front of the game ball by throwing the game ball such that the equatorial plane remains substantially vertical throughout the flight of the game ball and said openings in said cover are positioned at the left side of the game ball when viewed in front of the game ball.
24. The method of claim 22, further comprising throwing the game ball to curve from right to left when viewed in front of the game ball by throwing the game ball such that the equatorial plane remains substantially vertical throughout the flight of the game ball and said openings in said cover are positioned at the right side of the game ball when viewed in front of the game ball.
25. The method of claim 22, further comprising throwing the game ball to sink by throwing the game ball such that the equatorial plane remains substantially horizontal throughout the flight of the game ball and said openings in said cover are positioned at the top of the game ball.
26. The method of claim 22, further comprising throwing the game ball to rise by throwing the game ball such that the equatorial plane remains substantially horizontal throughout the flight of the game ball and said openings in said cover are positioned at the bottom of the game ball.
27. A game ball, comprising:
a generally spherical, hollow inner ball comprising circumferentially spaced openings; and
a cover substantially covering said inner ball and comprising openings generally aligned with said openings in said inner ball.
28. The game ball of claim 27, wherein said openings in said cover and said openings in said inner ball are configured such that when thrown said game ball curves away from said openings in said cover and said openings in said inner ball.
29. The game ball of claim 27, wherein said inner ball comprises an equatorial plane defining first and second halves of said inner ball, and wherein said circumferentially spaced openings are positioned in said first half.
30. The game ball of claim 27, wherein said cover comprises two surface layers of generally equal size, wherein said surface layers comprise peripheral edges joined by stitching.
31. The game ball of claim 30, wherein the game ball is a baseball and there are eight openings in said inner ball and eight openings in said cover which are spaced between the stitching joining said surface layers.
32. The game ball of claim 30, wherein each of said surface layers comprises generally spherical ends integral with a middle portion having concave sides.
33. A method of training a batter to hit a breaking pitch, comprising:
providing a ball comprising one or more openings; and
throwing said ball toward the batter such that said ball curves away from said openings.
34. The method of claim 33, wherein said ball comprises a generally spherical inner ball comprising circumferentially spaced openings, and wherein said ball comprises a cover comprising openings aligned with said openings in said inner ball.
35. The method of claim 34, wherein said inner ball comprises an equatorial plane defining first and second halves of said inner ball, and wherein said openings in said inner ball are positioned in said first half.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein said ball is thrown with said openings in said cover positioned on the left side of said ball when viewed by the batter causing said ball to curve from left to right when viewed by the batter.
37. The method of claim 36, wherein said ball is thrown with top spin causing said ball to sink before reaching the batter.
38. The method of claim 35, wherein said ball is thrown with said openings positioned on the right side of said ball when viewed by the batter causing said ball to curve from right to left when viewed by the batter.
39. The method of claim 38, wherein said ball is thrown with top spin causing said ball to sink before reaching the batter.
40. The method of claim 35, wherein said ball is thrown with said openings positioned on the top of said ball causing said ball to sink.
41. The method of claim 40, wherein said ball is thrown with left to right side spin when viewed by the batter causing said ball to curve from left to right when viewed by the batter.
42. The method of claim 40, wherein said ball is thrown with right to left side spin when viewed by the batter causing said ball to curve from right to left when viewed by the batter.
43. The method of claim 35, wherein said ball is thrown with said openings positioned on the bottom of said ball causing said ball to rise.
44. The method of claim 33, wherein said ball comprises a first ball, and further comprising:
providing a second ball comprising less openings than said first ball;
providing a third ball comprising a generally spherical, hollow inner ball and a cover substantially covering said inner ball;
randomly choosing one of said first, second or third balls; and
throwing said chosen first, second or third ball toward said batter.
45. The method of claim 44, further comprising:
providing a plurality of said first, second and third balls;
randomly choosing one of said first, second or third balls;
throwing said chosen first, second or third ball toward said batter; and
repeating the steps of randomly choosing one of said first, second or third balls and throwing said chosen first, second or third ball toward said batter.
46. A method of learning how to throw a breaking pitch, comprising:
providing a ball comprising circumferentially spaced openings configured so said ball curves away from the openings when thrown; and
throwing said ball such that said ball curves away from said openings.
47. The method of claim 46, wherein said ball comprises a first ball, and further comprising:
providing a second ball comprising less circumferentially spaced openings than said first ball, said openings in said second ball configured so said second ball curves away from said openings when thrown; and
throwing said second ball such that said second ball curves away from said openings.
48. The method of claim 46, wherein said ball comprises a generally spherical, hollow inner ball comprising circumferentially spaced openings, and wherein said ball comprises a cover comprising openings aligned with said openings in said inner ball.
49. The method of claim 48, wherein said inner ball comprises an equatorial plane defining first and second halves of said inner ball, and wherein said circumferentially spaced openings are positioned in said first half.
50. The method of claim 49, wherein said first half of said inner ball comprises eight circumferentially spaced openings, and wherein said cover comprises eight openings aligned with said openings in said inner ball.
51. The method of claim 50, wherein said ball comprises a first ball, and further comprising:
providing a second ball comprising a generally spherical, hollow inner ball and a cover substantially covering said inner ball, wherein said inner ball comprises an equatorial plane defining first and second halves of said inner ball, wherein said inner ball comprises four circumferentially spaced openings positioned in said first half, and wherein said cover comprises four openings aligned with said openings in said inner ball, wherein said openings in said cover and said inner ball are configured so said second ball curves away from said openings in said cover and said inner ball when thrown; and
throwing said second ball such that said second ball curves away from said openings in said cover and said inner ball.
52. The method of claim 51, further comprising:
providing a third ball comprising a generally spherical, hollow inner ball and a cover substantially covering said inner ball; and
throwing said third ball such that said third ball rotates and curves in the direction of rotation as viewed from the front of said third ball.
Descripción
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is related to game balls, and more particularly to a game ball with enhanced in flight movement which may be used for instruction, entertainment or competition.

2. Description of Related Art

There are a variety of games such as baseball or softball in which a pitcher throws a ball and a batter attempts to hit the ball. Because the pitcher does not want the batter to hit the ball, the pitcher attempts to deceive the batter by throwing a sequence of different types of pitches. The pitcher may throw pitches of varying speed, pitches that sink or drop as they approach the batter, pitches that move from right to left or from left to right, pitches with random in flight movement, or any combination of the above.

Conventional baseballs and softballs may be thrown to move during flight by throwing the ball with spin or rotation. A baseball or softball which is thrown with rotation will typically move in the direction of rotation as viewed in front of the thrown ball by the batter. For example, if the ball is thrown with topspin such that it rotates from top to bottom when viewed in front of the ball by the batter, than the ball will sink or drop a greater distance than the ball would otherwise drop due to the force of gravity. This pitch is frequently referred to as a curveball, although the term curveball has also been used to describe pitches which drop and move horizontally.

It is generally accepted that a rotating ball moves due to a reaction force termed the Magnus force, although alternate theories have been proposed. The Magnus force is a reaction force acting on a rotating ball moving through a fluid medium. When air flows around a spherical ball, there is a boundary layer of air adjacent to the ball's surface. The boundary layer begins at the ball's front surface and follows the ball's contour until it breaks away from the ball toward the rear of the ball. The boundary layer separation at the rear of the ball creates a low pressure region of turbulent air behind the ball commonly referred to as a wake. This low pressure region imparts a drag force on the ball slowing the ball's speed. When a ball is thrown with top spin, the rotation of the ball causes the low air pressure region, or wake, behind the ball to angle upward from the back of the ball. The wake is shifted upward because the boundary layer on the bottom of the ball, where the rotation is in the same direction as the air flow, breaks away from the ball later than the boundary layer on top of the ball, where the rotation is in the opposite direction as the air flow. The upward wake deflection created by the ball's rotation imparts a downward reaction force on the ball, which is the reason that a curveball sinks. The reaction force may cause the ball to move in any direction depending on the direction of rotation of the ball. The magnitude of this reaction force is a function of the density and dynamic viscosity of the air, the rotational and translational velocities of the ball and the dimensions of the ball.

There are many other types of pitches other than the curveball that are commonly thrown. A fastball is the fastest pitch in a pitcher's arsenal and typically the most commonly thrown pitch. Although a fastball typically has a straight trajectory, there are different types of fastballs which may move, or break, during flight. The four-seam fastball is gripped with the index and middle fingers extending across opposite sides of the “horseshoe” shaped section formed by the seams of a baseball. The four-seam fastball is typically thrown with backspin and has a straight trajectory. The four-seam fastball is named as such because as the ball rotates it appears to the batter that the ball has four parallel seams. The two-seam fastball is gripped with the index and middle fingers extending across the narrowest portion between two seams of the ball and it gets its name because the batter sees two parallel seams as the ball rotates. The two-seam fastball may be thrown slightly off-axis so that it has some in flight movement. The split-finger fastball is gripped similarly to a two-seam fastball except that the index and middle fingers are split apart. When thrown, the split-finger fastball typically has a lower velocity than either the four- or two-seam fastballs. The split-finger fastball typically sinks before or upon reaching the batter.

A changeup is an “off-speed” pitch which is released from the pitcher's hand in a similar manner to the fastball but has a significantly lower velocity than the fastball. Thus, when the changeup is executed properly, the batter anticipates a fastball, but the ball travels much slower than a typical fastball. Changeups may also be thrown with rotation so that they curve according to the principles discussed above.

A slider is a pitch which typically is thrown with rotation causing the ball to break down and when thrown by a right-handed pitcher from left to right as viewed by the batter. For a left-handed pitcher, the slider will break from right to left as viewed by the batter. The slider is thrown at a high speed that is only slightly less than that of a fastball. Because of the high speed the slider is thrown with, the batter must identify the pitch quickly in order to adjust for its movement and successfully make contact with the ball. A screwball is a pitch which is thrown with similar rotation as the slider, except that for a right-handed pitcher the ball moves from right to left as viewed by the batter, and for a left-handed pitcher the ball moves from left to right as viewed by the batter. It is difficult to throw a screwball because the wrist and forearm must rotate such that the palm faces away from the side of the thrower's body. This unnatural throwing motion causes arm and shoulder problems and thus pitchers rarely throw screwballs.

While it is desirable to throw the various pitches above which break, or move in flight, it is difficult to throw a ball with the rotation and speed necessary to achieve in flight movement. It is also well known that throwing breaking pitches causes arm and shoulder strain, which frequently results in injury. Instructional training balls have been developed to teach pitchers the proper grip and release for throwing a curveball. One type of training ball has grooves to teach the proper grip for throwing a curveball. However, the ball must still be thrown with topspin to get the sinking action of a curveball. These grooved training balls are typically only useful for throwing one type of pitch. Therefore, the balls are undesirable for teaching a batter how to hit breaking pitches because the batter knows what type of pitch is coming. The grooves also make the ball undesirable to hit.

There are also automatic pitching machines which may have the ability to “throw” balls with rotation such that the balls move in flight. These machines are typically used to train batters how to hit moving pitches. However, these machines are undesirable because they repetitively throw the same type of pitch unless the machine is reset or programmed to throw a different pitch. Therefore, the batter knows which type of pitch the machine will throw. Also, it is a more valuable training aid for a batter to see a pitch coming from a “live” arm than from a machine.

One type of novelty game ball which is designed to move when thrown is the Wiffle® ball, a ball manufactured by The Wiffle Ball, Inc. of Shelton, Conn. A Wiffle® ball is a hollow, relatively thin plastic ball with openings around one half of the ball. The lightweight nature of the Wiffle® ball combined with the openings causes it to move unpredictably when thrown. While the Wiffle® ball has enjoyed enormous success as a ball used for entertainment, it is not useful as an instructional device for learning how to throw or hit breaking balls.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to provide a ball which enhances in flight movement and may be used for instruction, entertainment or competition. It is another object of the invention to provide an instructional ball which may be used for either learning how to throw or hit pitches with in flight movement, commonly referred to as breaking pitches. It is an additional object of the invention to provide a method for learning how to throw breaking pitches and a method for training batters how to hit breaking pitches.

One embodiment of game ball according to the present invention comprises a generally spherical inner ball and a cover substantially covering the inner ball. The inner ball has first and second halves divided by an equatorial plane. The first half of the inner ball has one or more openings and the cover has openings aligned with the openings in the inner ball. When thrown, the game ball preferably curves away from the aligned openings in the cover and inner ball. The game ball may be used for instruction, entertainment or competition.

Another embodiment of game ball according to the present invention comprises a generally spherical, hollow inner ball and a cover substantially covering the inner ball. The inner ball has circumferentially spaced openings and the cover has openings aligned with the openings in the inner ball. When thrown, the game ball preferably curves away from the aligned openings in the cover and inner ball. The game ball may be used for instruction, entertainment or competition.

The invention also encompasses a method of training a batter to hit a breaking pitch comprising: (1) providing a ball with one or more openings configured so the ball curves away from the openings when thrown, and (2) throwing the ball toward the batter such that the ball curves away from the openings. This method is advantageous for training a batter to hit a breaking pitch because the ball curves away from the openings when thrown. Therefore, the ball need not be thrown with rotation to cause movement, thus reducing the arm and shoulder strain associated with throwing breaking pitches. Further, using this method the batter may learn how to identify moving pitches coming from a “live” arm and the coach can easily vary the types of pitches thrown to the batter by changing the orientation of the openings or by throwing the ball with rotation. The method also allows the coach to throw the ball from the regulation distance so the batter's training experience more closely matches a competition situation.

Further, the invention includes a method of learning how to throw a breaking pitch comprising: (1) providing a ball with one or more openings configured so the ball curves away from the openings when thrown, and (2) throwing the ball such that the ball curves away from the openings. This method is advantageous for learning how to throw a breaking pitch because the ball curves away from the openings when thrown, and thus the pitcher need not have perfect technique to throw a moving pitch. Therefore, the pitcher will not be discouraged while learning the proper technique. Upon learning the proper technique, the pitcher may begin throwing moving pitches with a regulation game ball, or the method may also include throwing a subsequent ball with less openings for further perfecting the proper technique to throw moving pitches.

Additional aspects of the invention, together with the advantages and novel features appurtenant thereto, will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following, or may be learned from the practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a game ball with enhanced in flight movement according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the game ball of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view of the game ball of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of the game ball of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an exploded side view of an inner ball of the game ball of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of one surface layer of the game ball of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of another surface layer of the game ball of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of an alternative embodiment of game ball according to the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the game ball of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a front elevational view of an alternative embodiment of game ball according to the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the game ball of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a front elevational view of an alternative embodiment of game ball according to the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of the game ball of FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 is a front elevational view of another alternative embodiment of game ball according to the present invention;

FIG. 15 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped for throwing a curveball;

FIG. 16 shows the flight path of the ball of FIG. 1 viewed from in front of the ball when the ball is thrown by a right-handed pitcher as a curveball with topspin;

FIG. 17 shows the flight path of the ball of FIG. 1 viewed from in front of the ball when the ball is thrown by a right-handed pitcher as a slider with rotation about an axis diagonal to the ground;

FIG. 18 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped for throwing a screwball;

FIG. 19 shows the flight path of the ball of FIG. 1 viewed from in front of the ball when the ball is thrown by a right-handed pitcher as a screwball with rotation about an axis diagonal to the ground;

FIG. 20 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped so that when thrown with backspin the ball moves from left to right when viewed from in front of the ball;

FIG. 21 shows the left to right flight path of the ball of FIG. 1 viewed from in front of the ball when the ball is thrown with backspin with the openings oriented along the left side of the ball as viewed from in front of the ball;

FIG. 22 shows the sinking flight path of the ball of FIG. 1 viewed from in front of the ball when the ball is thrown with side spin with the openings oriented on top of the ball;

FIG. 23 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped for throwing a knuckleball;

FIG. 24 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped for throwing a changeup;

FIG. 25 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped for throwing a split-finger fastball; and

FIG. 26 shows the ball of FIG. 8 gripped for throwing a two-seam fastball.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to FIGS. 1-7, a game ball with enhanced in flight movement according to one embodiment of the present invention is shown generally as 10. Game ball 10 is a baseball comprising a generally spherical inner ball 12, shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, and a cover 14 substantially covering inner ball 12. There are eight openings 16 a-h, shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, circumferentially spaced around inner ball 12 and eight openings 18 a-h in cover 14 which align with openings 16 a-h. Openings 16 a-h and 18 a-h are equally spaced around the game ball. As shown in FIG. 5, inner ball 12 has first and second halves 20 and 22 divided by an imaginary equatorial plane. The bottom of each of openings 16 a-h is spaced above the equatorial plane of inner ball 12 such that the openings 16 a-h are located in first half 20. Openings 18 a-h are aligned with openings 16 a-h and thus are also spaced above the equatorial plane of inner ball 12.

Although it should be appreciated that the invention is not limited to the following description of the theory of its operation, it is believed that when thrown game ball 10 curves away from openings 16 a-h and 18 a-h because the openings create an air pressure differential between the air flowing around the side of the ball with openings and the air flowing around the side of the ball without openings. This air pressure differential induces a force that moves the ball away from the openings. The pressure is less on the side of the ball without openings because air flowing around that side of the ball has a higher velocity than the air flowing around the side of the ball with openings. The air flowing around the side of the ball without openings has a higher velocity because it must travel a greater distance around the ball than air flowing around the other side which may pass through the openings. Preferably, game ball 10 also weighs less than a conventional baseball to enhance movement of game ball 10 during flight. Less weight allows game ball 10 to move a greater distance when a force is applied to it.

Inner ball 12 is preferably manufactured with a two piece mold. One piece of the mold has protrusions sized to create the desired openings around the first half 20 of the inner ball. The other mold piece is smooth to create the second half 22 of the inner ball. First and second halves 20 and 22 are preferably joined by friction welding or adhesive, although it is within the scope of the invention for the halves to be integral or joined by any other method. The inner ball is preferably hollow with a thickness between one eighth to one half of an inch, and most preferably a thickness of one quarter of an inch. However, it is within the scope of the invention for the inner ball to be solid, with openings extending inward toward the center core of the ball a distance of at least one eighth of an inch and preferably ranging from one eighth to one half of an inch. The inner ball is preferably made from plastic or an elastomer such as rubber, but it is within the scope of the invention for the inner ball to be made from a different material.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, 6 and 7, cover 14 comprises two surface layers 24 and 26 of equal size. Stitching 28 joins surface layers 24 and 26 along their peripheral edges. Surface layer 24, shown in FIG. 6, has two generally spherical ends 30 a,b and a middle portion 32 with concave sides extending between the ends. Surface layer 26, shown in FIG. 7, also has two generally spherical ends 34 a,b and a middle portion 36 with concave sides extending between the ends. Each surface layer 24 and 26 preferably has a thickness of between one sixteenth to one eighth of an inch. Cover 14 is preferably joined with inner ball 12 by adhesive before the surface layers are stitched together, but it is within the scope of the invention for the cover and inner ball to not be joined or to be joined by a method other than adhesion. Openings 18 a-h are preferably stamped into cover 14 before the cover is joined with inner ball 12 and before surface layers 24 and 26 are stitched together. The surface layers are preferably made from full grain leather, split leather, a synthetic polymeric material such as vinyl, polyurethane, polyvinylchloride, or blends thereof, or leather coated with a polymeric material such as vinyl, polyurethane, polyvinylchloride, or blends thereof.

Openings 16 a-h and 18 a-h are generally elliptical, however, the openings may have any shape, including, but not limited to, circular, rectangular or triangular. Preferably, the major axis of each of openings 16 a-h and 18 a-h is approximately one inch in length and the minor axis of each of the openings is approximately one half inch in length. However, it is within the scope of the invention for the openings to have any size. The bottom of the openings are preferably spaced approximately one quarter inch above the imaginary equatorial plane which divides inner ball 12 into first and second halves 20 and 22, as shown in FIG. 5. However, it is within the scope of the invention for the openings to be spaced any distance above the equatorial plane.

Game ball 10 preferably weighs between 2.5 to 3.5 ounces and most preferably weighs about 2.9 to 3.1 ounces, however, it is within the scope of the invention for the game ball to have any weight. The weight of a regulation baseball, according to Rule 1.09 of the Official Baseball Rules of Major League Baseball (as last amended on Dec. 20, 2006), is between 5 to 5.25 ounces. Thus, the weight of game ball 10 is about 1.5 to 3 ounces less than the weight of a regulation baseball. The reduced weight of game ball 10 allows it to move a greater distance than a conventional baseball when the same force is applied to each. Game ball 10 also preferably has a circumference of approximately between 8.5 to 9.5 inches, and most preferably between 9 to 9.25 inches, which is consistent with the range of 9 to 9.25 inches required by Rule 1.09 of the Official Baseball Rules of Major League Baseball referred to above. Although game ball 10 preferably has a circumference which approximates that of a regulation baseball, it is within the scope of the invention for game ball 10 to have any circumference, including that of a regulation softball.

The movement caused by the openings and the increased movement of game ball 10 as a result of weighing less than a conventional baseball make it easier to throw a moving, or breaking, pitch with game ball 10 than it is to throw a breaking pitch with a conventional baseball. Therefore, game ball 10 may be used as an instructional aid for learning how to throw a breaking pitch or for teaching a batter how to hit a breaking pitch. Game ball 10 is advantageous as an instructional aid for teaching batters how to hit breaking pitches because it is easier to throw a breaking pitch with game ball 10 than it is to throw a breaking pitch with a conventional baseball. Thus, there is less shoulder and arm strain when throwing game ball 10 as a breaking pitch than there is when throwing a conventional baseball.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, an alternative embodiment of a game ball according to the present invention is designated generally as 110. Game ball 110 is preferably a baseball which is identical to game ball 10 shown in FIGS. 1-7 except that the openings 118 a-h in cover 114 and the corresponding openings (not shown) in the inner ball of game ball 110 are spaced between the stitching 128 joining surface layers 124 and 126. For manufacturing purposes, it may be desirable to space the openings between the stitching, so the openings do not interfere with the stitching.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show another alternative embodiment of a game ball according to the present invention designated generally as 210. Game ball 210 is preferably a baseball which is identical to game ball 10, shown in FIGS. 1-7, except that there are only four openings 218 a-d in the cover 214 and four corresponding openings (not shown) in the inner ball of game ball 210. The four openings in game ball 210 are equally spaced around the game ball between the stitching 228 joining surface layers 224 and 226. Game ball 210 weighs more than game ball 10, because game ball 210 has four less openings. However, game ball 210 still preferably weighs less than a regulation baseball. Preferably, game ball 210 weighs approximately 3.0 to 4.0 ounces and most preferably about 3.5 ounces. Because game ball 210 weighs more than game ball 10 it is harder to throw a moving pitch with game ball 210. Additionally, because game ball 210 has four less openings than game ball 10, the air pressure differential between the air flowing around opposite sides of game ball 210 is not as great as the air pressure differential between the air flowing around opposite sides of game ball 10. Therefore, game ball 210 moves less as a result of its openings than game ball 10. Because it is harder to throw a moving pitch with game ball 210 than it is with game ball 10, game ball 210 may be used by a pitcher learning how to throw breaking pitches after the pitcher has mastered throwing breaking pitches with game ball 10.

Referring now to FIG. 14, another alternative embodiment of a game ball according to the present invention is shown generally as 250. Game ball 250 is substantially similar to game ball 10 shown in FIGS. 1-7 except that game ball 250 has no openings. Because game ball 250 has no openings, it is more difficult to throw a moving pitch with game ball 250 than it is with either of game balls 10 or 210. Game ball 250 weighs less than a regulation baseball, because game ball 250 has a hollow inner ball (not shown) similar to game balls 10 (as shown in FIG. 4) and 210. Therefore, it is easier to throw moving pitches with game ball 250 than it is to throw moving pitches with a regulation baseball. Because it is harder to throw a moving pitch with game ball 250 than it is with either of game balls 10 and 210, game ball 250 may be used by a pitcher learning how to throw breaking pitches after the pitcher has mastered throwing breaking pitches with game balls 10 and 210.

Referring now to FIGS. 12 and 13, another alternative embodiment of a game ball according to the present invention is shown generally as 310. Game ball 310 is a softball which is very similar to game ball 10 shown in FIGS. 1-7, except that it is larger and has four more openings. Game ball 310 has two surface layers 324 and 326 joined by stitching 328. The surface layers cover an inner ball (not shown) in a similar manner as game ball 10. However, game ball 310 has a larger circumference than game ball 10 and also has twelve openings 318 a-1 circumferentially spaced around cover 314 and twelve corresponding openings (not shown) in the inner ball of the game ball. Although game ball 310 is shown with twelve openings, it is within the scope of the invention for the game ball to have more or less than twelve openings.

Game ball 310 preferably weighs approximately between 4.5 to 6.0 ounces, but it is within the scope of the invention for the game ball to have any suitable weight. The weight of game ball 310 is about 1.5 to 3 ounces less than the weight of a regulation softball, which is between 5.8 to 6.2 ounces for an eleven inch circumference softball and between 6.3 to 6.9 ounces for a twelve inch circumference softball according to Rule 2, Section 3 of the Seventh Edition of the United States Specialty Sports Association (“USSSA”) Official Fast Pitch Playing Rules and By-Laws and Rule 2, Section 3 of the 2007 USSSA Official Slow Pitch Playing Rules and By-Laws. Because game ball 310 weighs less than a regulation softball and has openings in its cover, it is easier to throw a moving pitch with game ball 310 than it is to throw a moving pitch with a regulation softball. Game ball 310 also preferably has a circumference of between 10.5 to 12.5 inches, but it is within the scope of the invention for the game ball to have any circumference.

When any of game balls 10, 110, 210 or 310 are thrown the respective game ball tends to curve away from the openings in the cover and inner ball. When any of the game balls are thrown with the rotation and technique of a breaking pitch thrown with a regulation baseball or softball, the movement caused by the openings combines with the movement caused by the ball's rotation such that the game balls described herein move more than a regulation baseball or softball. Further, when any of game balls 10, 110, 210, 250 or 310 are thrown with the rotation and technique of a breaking pitch, the game balls move more than a regulation baseball or softball because game balls 10, 110, 210, 250 and 310 weigh less than a regulation baseball or softball. For convenience, the description and Figures referred to herein show and refer to the proper grip and orientation for throwing different pitches by a right-handed pitcher with game balls 10 and 110. It should be understood that the grip and orientation for throwing game balls 10 and 110 by a left-handed pitcher is the mirror image of that shown and described. It should also be understood that any of game balls 210, 250 and 310 may be gripped and thrown in a similar manner as described herein for game balls 10 and 110. Although, the description and Figures referred to herein illustrate many types of pitches which may be thrown with game balls 10, 110, 210, 250 and 310, it should be understood that any type of pitch may be thrown with the game balls and that the game balls will enhance the movement of any breaking pitch.

To throw a curveball with either of game balls 10 or 110, the ball is preferably gripped as shown in FIG. 15 with the index and middle fingers positioned on the opposite side of the ball as the thumb and the openings in the ball facing the palm. The ball is thrown and released from the hand such that it spins over the top of the index finger and the openings are positioned at the left side of the ball when viewed from in front of the ball, as shown in FIG. 16. After the ball is released, the palm generally faces the thrower's body. This release imparts top spin on the ball such that it rotates around an imaginary axis perpendicular to the ball's equatorial plane and passing through the center of the ball. As best shown in FIG. 16, the ball sinks and moves from left to right when viewed in front of the ball. While a conventional ball thrown with top spin typically only sinks, when game ball 10 is thrown with top spin and the openings positioned as shown in FIG. 16, the game ball sinks and moves from left to right. The combined effect of the ball's rotation, the openings in the ball and the ball's reduced weight versus that of a conventional baseball cause ball 10 to move more than a conventional baseball thrown with top spin does.

As described above in the Background section, a rotating ball moving through a fluid is acted upon by a reaction force which is directed in the direction of rotation as viewed from the front of the ball. For a curveball thrown with topspin, this reaction force is directed down and acts to push the ball down.

The openings in game ball 10 cause the ball to move from left to right when viewed in front of the ball, as shown in FIG. 16. As described above, it is believed that the openings create an air pressure differential between the air flowing around the side of the ball with openings and the air flowing around the side of the ball without openings. This air pressure differential induces a force acting on the ball in a direction pointed away from the side of the ball with openings causing the ball to move from left to right when viewed in front of the ball.

The downward force caused by the rotation of game ball 10 combines with the left to right force caused by the openings to move the ball down and to the right, as shown in FIG. 16. The magnitude of the two forces and the weight of the ball determine the total movement of the ball. The lighter that game ball 10 weighs, the more the ball will move when a force is applied to it. Because game ball 10 weighs less than a conventional baseball, game ball 10 moves more than a conventional baseball when a force of the same magnitude is applied to each. Thus, when game ball 10 is thrown in the same manner as a conventional baseball, game ball 10 moves more than the conventional baseball because of the combined effects of the force resulting from the rotation of game ball 10, the force acting on the ball because of the openings and because the reduced weight of game ball 10 increases the distance it moves in response to a force applied to it.

To throw a slider with either of game balls 10 or 110, the game ball is gripped with a similar grip as the curveball grip shown in FIG. 15. and thrown such that the ball spins about a diagonal axis as shown in FIG. 17. The diagonal spin on the ball is preferably created by placing the index and middle fingers against a seam of the ball and “pulling” down on the seam upon release of the ball. A slider has similar movement as a curveball, but typically is thrown faster than a curveball, has more side-to-side movement than a curveball and less sinking action than a curveball. A slider thrown with game ball 10 has more movement than a slider thrown with a conventional baseball, because of the movement caused by the openings in the ball and the increased movement due to the reduced weight of the ball. FIG. 17 shows the openings in game ball 10 positioned at the bottom left corner of the ball. Thus, the force resulting from the openings moves the ball both right and up. The force resulting from the ball's rotation moves the ball both right and down.

To throw a screwball, either of game balls 10 or 110 is gripped as shown in FIG. 18 and thrown overhand. As the ball is released from the hand, the forearm and hand are twisted in a direction such that the palm faces away from the right side of a right-handed thrower's body after the ball is released. This release causes the ball to spin about a diagonal axis, as shown in FIG. 19. The screwball is an extremely difficult pitch to throw with a conventional baseball because of the unnatural throwing movement necessary to accomplish the desired rotation. It is easier to throw a screwball with either of game balls 10 or 110 than it is with a conventional baseball because of the movement caused by the openings and increased movement due to the reduced weight. As shown in FIG. 19, the openings are positioned at the bottom right corner of the ball, thus causing the ball to move left and up. The ball's rotation causes the ball to sink and move from right to left when viewed in front of the ball. The right to left movement caused by the openings combines with the right to left movement caused by the ball's rotation to create more right to left movement when throwing a screwball with game ball 10 than when throwing a screwball with a conventional baseball.

If either of game balls 10 or 110 is gripped as shown in FIG. 20 and thrown with backspin like a conventional four seam fastball, the ball breaks from left to right when viewed in front of the ball, as shown in FIG. 21. The ball is thrown overhand like a conventional four seam fastball and such that the equatorial plane remains substantially vertical throughout the flight of the game ball and the aligned openings in the cover and inner ball are positioned at the left side of the game ball when viewed in front of the ball. The openings cause a force moving the ball from left to right when viewed in front of the ball. The ball's backspin causes the ball to sink more slowly than it otherwise would due to gravity.

To throw either of game balls 10 or 110 like a conventional four seam fastball but such that it curves from right to left when viewed from in front of the ball, the openings are positioned at the right side of the game ball instead of the left side as described above. It should be appreciated that for a right-handed pitcher, reversing the position of the openings to the right side of the game ball will cause the ball to break in toward a right-handed batter, like a screwball. Thus, with any of the game balls according to the present invention, a baseball or softball pitcher may throw a left to right, or right to left breaking pitch using conventional fastball techniques. Because throwing a fastball requires less technique and results in less arm and shoulder strain than throwing a conventional breaking pitch, using any of the game balls of the present invention results in less arm and shoulder strain than occurs when throwing a breaking pitch using a conventional ball. Therefore, the game balls according to the present invention are useful for teaching batters to recognize and hit breaking pitches from a live arm without causing arm and shoulder strain to the coach or trainer throwing the breaking pitches.

Referring now to FIG. 22, game ball 10 may be thrown to sink by throwing the ball sidearm with the openings positioned on top of the game ball such that the equatorial plane remains substantially horizontal throughout the flight of the game ball. When the openings are positioned on top of the ball the force resulting from the openings is directed downward causing the ball to sink more than it would due to the force of gravity alone. The ball is also released with sidespin because of the sidearm release. For a right-handed pitcher, the sidespin will cause the ball to move from right to left when viewed in front of the ball. The amount of sidespin that the ball is released with determines the distance the ball moves from side to side. To throw the ball such that it rises with a sidearm release, the openings are positioned at the bottom of the game ball so the force resulting from the openings is directed upward.

To throw a knuckleball with either of game balls 10 or 110, the ball is gripped as shown in FIG. 23, with the portion of the index, middle and ring fingers between the tip and first knuckle in contact with the ball and the thumb and pinkie fingers positioned on opposite sides of the ball. The openings are positioned to face away from the palm. The knuckleball is preferably thrown such that the ball either does not rotate, or rotates very slowly. This ensures that throughout the majority of the ball's flight the side of the ball with the openings breaks through the air. When thrown in this manner the ball moves in an unpredictable manner due to disturbances in the air flowing around the ball caused by the seams and the openings. The openings enhance the unpredictable movement of a knuckleball thrown with either of game balls 10 or 110 versus that of a conventional baseball. A knuckleball thrown with either of game balls 10 or 110 moves more than a knuckleball thrown with a conventional baseball because of the openings and the reduced weight of the ball. Either of game balls 10 or 110 may also be used to throw a knuckle curve by gripping the ball as described above for a knuckleball, but releasing the ball with rotation causing the ball to move. The openings may also be positioned on the right or left side of the ball to cause the ball to move either toward the left or right, respectively.

Either of game balls 10 or 110 may be thrown as a changeup with a grip as shown in FIG. 24. A changeup is an off-speed pitch which is typically thrown to resemble a fastball. A changeup is thrown at a lower speed than a fastball due to the grip and release of the ball. The grip for a changeup, also commonly known as a circle-change, is shown in FIG. 24. The openings may be positioned on the left side or right side of the ball such that the ball moves toward the right or left, respectively. To throw the ball such that the openings cause it to move toward the right or left, the ball is released overhand in a similar manner as a fastball and the equatorial plane of the ball remains substantially vertical throughout the ball's flight, while the openings remain on the left side or right side when viewed in front of the ball. Alternatively, the ball may be gripped such that the openings face away from the thrower and when released the ball rotates around its equatorial plane such that the openings rotate from front to back when viewed in front of the ball. When a changeup is thrown with either of game balls 10 or 110 in this manner, the ball will have similar characteristics as a conventional baseball thrown as a changeup.

To throw either of game balls 10 or 110 as a split-finger fastball, the ball is gripped with the index and middle fingers spread apart as shown in FIG. 25 and thrown overhand. The split-finger grip causes the ball to be released with less velocity than a four- or two-seam fastball and thus the ball sinks when compared to a four- or two-seam fastball. When thrown as a split-finger fastball, either of game balls 10 or 110 sinks more than a conventional baseball because of the reduced weight of the game balls. The openings may also contribute to the sinking action of the game balls when thrown as a split-finger fastball. Either of game balls 10 or 110 may also be used to throw a forkball, which is similar to the split-finger fastball, except that the ball is wedged between the index and middle fingers so they are substantially on opposite sides of the ball. When thrown, the forkball has less velocity and sinks even more than a split-finger fastball.

Either of game balls 10 or 110 may be used to throw a two seam fastball by gripping the ball as shown in FIG. 26 with the index and middle fingers extending over the narrowest portion between two seams of the ball. The ball is thrown overhand with backspin such that the openings rotate from front to back when viewed from the front. When thrown in this manner, the openings will not induce a force causing the ball to move because the openings do not remain at the top, bottom or a side of the ball throughout the ball's flight. Thus, the game ball may be used to throw straight pitches which is desirable during training because different types of pitches may be thrown with the same ball. However, the ball may be made to move by releasing the ball to rotate about an off-center axis. It should be appreciated that if either of game balls 10 or 110 is gripped like a four seam fastball, as shown in FIG. 20, and thrown, then the ball will curve either from right to left or from left to right, as shown in FIG. 21, because of the movement due to the positioning of the openings. Thus, either of game balls 10 or 110 cannot be used to throw a straight four-seam fastball.

Although all Figures and descriptions herein refer to the proper method and grip for throwing the game balls of the present invention either overhand or sidearm, it should be understood that the game balls may be thrown in any other manner. For example, the game balls may be thrown underhand, submarine style or with a three-quarter delivery (i.e. between overhand and sidearm). It may be particularly desirable to throw game ball 310 underhand, because softballs are typically thrown underhand. The principles described above for the ball's movement are the same regardless of how the ball is thrown.

It should be understood that the terms used herein for referring to the types of pitches are not clearly defined. Thus, depending on the source, pitches with different types of movement may be referred to by the same name and pitches with the same type of movement may be referred to by different names. However, the basic principles described above refer to any type of breaking pitch thrown with either of game balls 10 or 110. If the ball is thrown and released such that it rotates, the ball will move in the direction of the ball's rotation as viewed in front of the ball. The ball will also move away from the orientation of its openings. Thus, although only the most common ways to throw game balls 10 and 110 are described herein, it should be understood that there are an infinite number of ways in which game balls 10 or 110 may be thrown to move.

Game balls 10 or 110, 210 and 250 may be used in progression for learning how to throw breaking pitches. When learning how to throw breaking pitches, either of game balls 10 or 110, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 8, respectively, is thrown first because they have the most openings which provide the most movement. Game ball 210, shown in FIG. 10, is thrown after learning how to throw breaking pitches with either of game balls 10 or 110. Because it is more difficult to throw a breaking pitch with ball 210 than it is with either of balls 10 or 110, the throwing technique must improve in order to throw a breaking pitch with ball 210. Ball 250, shown in FIG. 14, is thrown after learning how to throw breaking pitches with ball 210. The throwing technique must improve even more to throw breaking pitches with ball 250, because there are no openings affecting the ball's movement, however, it is still easier to throw a breaking pitch with game ball 250 than it is to throw a breaking pitch with a regulation baseball because of the reduced weight of game ball 250. After learning to throw a breaking pitch with game ball 250, the throwing technique has improved to the point where a regulation baseball may be thrown to break, or move.

Any of game balls 10, 110, 210, 250 or 310 may also be used as an aid for training batters to identify breaking pitches and adjust accordingly to hit the moving ball. Because it is easier to throw a breaking pitch with any of the game balls described herein than with a conventional baseball or softball, a coach can throw a breaking pitch with the game balls described herein and will experience less shoulder and arm strain than if the coach threw a breaking pitch with a conventional baseball or softball. The game balls described herein also have the general appearance of a conventional baseball or softball, so the hitter can identify the rotation of a breaking pitch by watching the seams on the game balls. Although there are pitching machines which can throw breaking pitches, the game balls described herein allow a hitter to spot a breaking pitch coming out of a live thrower's hand. Also, the game balls described herein allow a coach to alternate different types of breaking pitches, whereas a pitching machine repetitively throws the same type of pitch. In addition to throwing different types of breaking pitches with the game balls, the coach may also randomly choose one of game balls 10, 110, 210 or 250 to throw at the batter so the batter does not know which of game balls 10, 110, 210 or 250 is being thrown. The coach may throw a series of pitches at the batter and for each pitch randomly choose one of game balls 10, 110, 210 or 250 to throw. Randomly choosing which of the game balls and which type of pitch to throw at the batter ensures that the batter does not know what type of pitch to look for and thus the batter must identify the pitch based on the ball's rotation. This trains the batter for competitive ballgames when the batter will not know the type of pitch before it is thrown. It should be appreciated that the same method may be employed for game ball 310 by using a plurality of game balls that are similar to game ball 310, each having a different number of openings than game ball 310 or no openings. Any of the game balls described herein are also advantageous as training aids because the reduced weight of the balls reduces the amount of pain a batter feels when hit by one of the balls. If a batter is afraid of being hit by a breaking pitch thrown with a conventional ball, training with the game balls described herein may reduce the batter's fear and teach the batter to remain in the batter's box and identify the pitch.

Game balls 10, 110, 210, 250 or 310 may be used to play baseball, softball or any other type of game requiring a ball. The game balls may be used purely for entertainment, or the balls may be used for competition. The game balls may even be used to play indoor games because they weigh less than a baseball or softball and travel a lesser distance when hit than a conventional baseball or softball. Because the game balls travel a lesser distance, they may be used to play a baseball or softball game on a smaller field than a regulation baseball or softball field with less players than that required in a regulation baseball or softball game. For example, any of the game balls may be used to play a baseball or softball game with teams of three or five persons. The lesser distance that the game balls travel when hit is also advantageous when using any of the game balls as a training device, because it requires less time to retrieve the hit balls. Even though game balls 10, 110, 210 and 250 described herein weigh less than conventional baseballs, the game balls still weigh enough to be pitched from the regulation distance between a pitcher and a batter, which is 60.5 feet according to Diagram No. 1 of the Official Baseball Rules of Major League Baseball referred to above.

Thus, it should be apparent from the description herein, that the game balls 10, 110, 210, 250 and 310 according to the present invention enhance the in flight movement of a breaking pitch. The game balls may be used as an instructional aid for both learning how to throw breaking pitches and teaching batters how to hit breaking pitches. The game balls may also be used for entertainment or competition.

From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all ends and objectives herein-above set forth, together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the invention.

Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matters herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings are to be interpreted as illustrative, and not in a limiting sense. For example, the number and spacing of the openings shown in the drawings may vary and still be within the scope of the claimed invention.

While specific embodiments have been shown and discussed, various modifications may of course be made, and the invention is not limited to the specific forms or arrangement of parts and steps described herein, except insofar as such limitations are included in the following claims. Further, it will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.

Citada por
Patente citante Fecha de presentación Fecha de publicación Solicitante Título
US8357062 *4 May 201022 Ene 2013Singaball Pte. Ltd.Game ball
US20110224034 *13 Mar 201015 Sep 2011Rastegar Jahangir SBall-Shaped Object with Bouncing and Non-Bouncing Features
US20110275463 *4 May 201010 Nov 2011Singaball Pte. Ltd.Game ball
US20120108372 *3 Nov 20113 May 2012Pete ParentiFlexible hole ball
Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.473/451, 473/604, 434/247, 473/598, 473/613
Clasificación internacionalA63B69/00
Clasificación cooperativaA63B39/06, A63B69/0002, A63B43/00, A63B2069/0006, A63B39/00
Clasificación europeaA63B69/00B, A63B39/06, A63B39/00, A63B43/00
Eventos legales
FechaCódigoEventoDescripción
21 Abr 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: RAWLINGS SPORTING GOODS COMPANY, INC., MISSOURI
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:LENIG, JASON;REEL/FRAME:020830/0632
Effective date: 20080331