Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/74

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��Popular Scieficc Monfhh/

���The mechanical batting instructor not only pitches the ball but returns it to the pitching- machine. You simply bat and bat and bat until your arms ache. The ball is sent up an inclined plane, which has a reverse curve at the top, so that the ball finds its way into a hopper and into a funnel leading to a pitching-machine. The insert shows how the pitch- ing-machine works. The ball drops on the upper end of a pitching-arm. As it does so it releases a latch by which the pitching-arm is held against the tension of powerful springs. Suddenly freed, the pitching-arm hurls the ball at the waiting batter. On the home plate is a pedal connected with the pitching-arm. By pressing the pedal with his foot the batter can reset the pitching-arm as fast as he wishes

��As. one inventor plans it, the chest- protector of the figure of a catcher in lifelike attitude is made as an opening of such size and shape as will accurately represent the plane in space, of which the width is that of the plate and the height the distance between knee and shoulder, through which, according to the rules, a pitched ball must pass in order to be a "strike."

Far more interesting, however, to the average visitor to a counlry fair is the type of device in which he takes bat in hand and stands in a batting cage, to try his skill with the ash against a mechanical pitcher which actually pitches real baseballs. He does this fearle.ssl>- enough; for it is the one great advantage of the pitching-machine that it is ne\-er "wild" and never, therefore, at all apt to "bean" the i)atter (hit him on the head). Some of these mechanical pitch- ers are but spring-guns designed to (ire

��tiaseballs at the Ijatter. Others have a figure in front of the gun-barrel which raises its arm, goes through a "wind-up" and makes a throwing motion coincident with the actual delivery of the ball.

To still further extend the illusion and make of the practice of batting a "game," a "mechanical ball field" at a reasonable distance from the batter is sometime.-^ provided. Here a numerous crop of targets appear in serried ranks and various heights. Any one of these targets, hit with a batted ball, registers in a convenient place the "value" of the batttni ball. It may be a one, two or three-base hit, a "home run," "ground- er," "lly-ljall" or what not.

Ot the devices actually u.sed b\' base- ball players to train them.selves in the art of playing the game, the i)ilching- machini' would sei'in the most i-ommon. The ".uitomalic iini|)ire," howex'er, seems to ha\e some claims to real use.

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