Chicago Tribune October 26, 1896
Signs multiply of a revival of indoor baseball to an extent little short of epidemic. There was a renewed interest in the outdoor national game during the last league season., and, in fact, baseball, which waned in popularity during the Brotherhood wrangle and the era of local horse racing, has taken a fresh hold upon the lovers of sports and apparently has entered a period of unprecedented prosperity.
Viewed from a popular standpoint baseball is entitled to the rank to which it is aspires to the “national game.” Other sports each have their peculiar limitations. Golf, if thrown from its high estate as the “sport of Kings” and vulgarized would cease to be played. Tennis will never attract the masses. Cricket is “slow” from the American standpoint. Polo and lacrosse appeal to a limited following. Football is uninteresting without the environment of college or club partisans, and is seasonable for a short time only. Horse racing has degenerated into the gamblers’ tool for fleecing the innocent.
Baseball has adapted itself to the changes of seasons and is enjoyed by classes and masses alike. It was a happy thought which led a Chicagoan to frame rules for the game so that it may be played indoors during the winter. This man, the father of indoor baseball, is George W. Hancock of F. G. Logan & Co., commission brokers, and one of the best known men on the Board of Trade.
How the Game Began.
Indoor baseball was born in 1887 in the Farragut club, formerly the greatest aquatic club in the country, but now, unfortunately for the good of honest amateur sports, a thing of history. The idea was suggested during a during a frolic of the members of the club on Thanksgiving day of that year. They were throwing an ordinary boxing-glove about the room, while one of the boys was strtiking at it with a broom. Hancock suddenly called out:
Boys, let’s play baseball.
The boys divided into two teams and took their positions. The boxing-glove was used for a ball and the broomstick for a bat. There were no rules further than the kind small boys follow on the prairie, and such as they remembered as “fans at league games. It was great fun, however, and after it was all over Mr. Hancock called his fellow members around and said:
I believe this affair can be worked into a regular game of baseball which can be played indoors, and if all come down Saturday night, I’ll make up some rules and have a ball and bat which will suit the purpose of the sport and do no damage to the surroundings.
Then he went home, hauled out a copy of the league rules and went to work to equalize the points of the game as affected by the change in surroundings. Next day he gave instructions to Augustus J. White how to make a ball that could be seen at night and fit the requirements.
big, soft ball and a small bat—that was the central idea evolved from the boxing-glove and the broomstick, and the material distinction between the new game and its prototype. From this the rest of the scheme was elaborated smoothly enough.
The first regular contest of indoor baseball ever played between two nines chosen from among members of the Farragut club and is described as having been peculiarly ludicrous. The audience went into rapture over the performance and the new sport was christened. The score was 41 to 40. The inexperience of the members of the two teams and the newness of the game were responsible for the largeness of the score. It was not long before the players became more skillful and the scores were reduced shortly to a more professional basis, and now with many clubs and numerous leagues all over the United States playing the game, it has reached a scientific plane to which no one at that time imagined it would attain.
Chicago Indoor Base Ball Team
Many Leagues This Winter.
This season there probably will be at least four local leagues, if not several more. There will be a cycling league beyond doubt. The Amateur Indoor Baseball League certainly will be on deck stronger than ever, the old Midwinter League promises to take on a new lease of life, and a suburban league is being talked up in Austin, La Grange, Hinsdale, Oak Park, and Maywood. The strong Commercial League, which recently closed an outdoors championship season, will try the indoor variation this winter.
The season will begin when the football season ends—after Thanksgiving day. The leaders already are conferring and plans are laid for meetings to arrange schedules within a week or two. The first of December will see the indoor season in full blast and it is thought for a season of unexampled prosperity. Good outside teams like those at Rockford and Ottawa already are seeking to arrange games with Chicago clubs. The indoor games in these outside towns draw large crowds and the teams are as good as any in the country.
R.L. Welch, Chairman of the Athletic committee of the Englewood Wheelmen and the club’s delegate to the Association of Cycling Clubs, is engaged now in the active work of forming the new Cycling League. He says:
Cycling Clubs to Participate.
All the cycling clubs are taking a great interest in indoor baseball this winter. Many of them have kept good outdoor teams together this year, and not a few of them are playing football now. After vThanksgiving day, they are going in for indoor baseball. We will have a league this winter the best in town. It will be composed, I believe, of the Englewood Wheelmen, the Illinois Cycling club, the Thistles, the Columbia Wheelmen, First Regiment Cycling club, Lake Views, Woodlawns, and Bankers’ Cycling club. I expect to get the boys together to arrange things inside of ten days.
Last year there were only three active indoor leagues, the Chicago Amateur Baseball Association, the strongest of the lot, the Midwinter League, and the Cook County High School League. The latter doubtless will add to its name on the half dozen or more that will be on deck this December.
The Midwinter League last year was composed of the Englewood Wheelmen, the First Regiment, Oakwoods, Brookdales, Art Institute, and Armours.
The Amateur League was made up of the champion Marquettes, the St. Patricks (next to the Marquettes the crack-a-jacks of the season), the East Ends, North Ends, Fort Dearborns, Irvings, Westerns, Ashlands, Hegaards, and Siegel & Coopers.
Playing with the Marquettes were a number of stars like Stein, the Brooklyn league pitcher, once a Colt; Gallagher, catcher (not Pete); Charley Todd, the best shortstop in town; his brother “Mel”; and John Hendricks of the Illinois Cycling club, one of the best amateur fielders Chicago has ever produced. Among other professionals who played last winter with Chicago indoor teams is Herman Long, the famous Boston shortstop. Fred Pfeffer and several others of the Chicago league team are expected to be seen indoors this winter.
Old Rules in Force.
Since George W. Hancock first drafted the rules by which the game was played between the two nines of the Farragut club they never have been changed. Every club has accepted them without question, but Mr. Hancock is of the opinion that the time has come to make a few alterations. There has been considerable trouble in obtaining good umpires. Many professionals like Jimmy Ryan and Pfeffer have officiated for the Chicago indoor leagues, but the wrangling that has resulted from the lack of stringent regulations and the natural freedom incidental to the game as now played has broken the hearts of the umpires, and it is difficult to get a good man to undertake the job.
Mr. Hancock says:
We must get the representatives of the various Chicago clubs together and amend the rules. Although I am the author of the rules as they now stand, I certainly do not feel like taking upon myself the sole responsibility of changing the. This must be done by a conference.
I propose that it be set down in the rules that no player or Captain shall address the umpire to dispute his decision under penalty of expulsion of the player so offending from the game.. If any one is so ejected from the game it shall be permissible to play the game out with eight or even seven men. If more than two so offend the game shall be forfeited.
I think we will have a meeting about Nov. and organize a league of old-timers, and perhaps give the youngsters a whirl or two. There are the Chicago Athletics, who now have a team one year old, the Harvards of Englewood, one of the original Midwinter League; the Idlewilds of Englewood, another of the originals; the Board of Trade and perhaps some of the bank clubs, who will join.
Mr. Hancock is the acknowledged authority on the early history of the game, and some of his recollections of the pioneer days will be read with interest.
“The Farraguts and La Salles have held the record for the longest contest,” he said. “This game was played in 1891. It lasted fifteen innings, and the Farraguts won by a score of 13 to 11. The closest score I remember was between the Chicago Cyclings and the Carltons. The Cyclings won, 1 to 0, in the ninth inning, the winning run coming in after two men were out.”
Three games were played for charity at the Auditorium during the period of the great popularity of the game, and drew large crowds. The first was in 1889 between the Farraguts and La Salles to a packed house. The score was 7 to 4 in favor of the La Salles. The next year the Farraguts defeated the Crltons, 11 to 10, at the same place, and in 1891, the Idlewilds beat the Country Club of Evanston, 6 to 5.
Farragut Boat Club
How the Game Is Played.
The game of indoor baseball is a mystery to thousands of “fans,” who know the rules of the National League almost by heart. Of course, the leading characteristics of the big game are preserved. Perhaps the most striking innovation is in the size of ball and bat. The former looks as big as a toy balloon and the bat is so small it can be compared to nothing better than its original, a broomstick. The reasons for this change are obvious. The inside of the theater of a club-house is not as large as a baseball park in any of its dimensions.
The ball is seventeen inches in circumference, but weighs only eight and one-quarter ounces, and feels soft to the touch. It has a white cover and is lively enough to make things interesting, but without damaging the furniture of the hall or faces of the players and spectators. The bat must be not over one and one-quarter inches in diameter at the largest part and is made of wood.
The positions of the players are somewhat different from the regular game. It takes at least seven men to make up a team, but it is played by nine. Only two of these are outfielders, however, the center fielder coming inside the base line and becoming a second or “right” shortstop. The two shortstops play up close to the batter, one on each side of the pitcher, and usually within ten feet of the home plate.
Indoor baseball game in Chicago, between All Chicago and Illinois Central.
Diamond in Miniature.
The dimensions of the diamond are reduced in every way. Each side of the diamond is twenty-seven feet long, and the pitcher’s box is placed twenty-two feet from the center of the home plate. The pitcher is not allowed to throw a curved ball. He must stand wholly within the box and swing his hand and arm parallel with the body when delivering the ball—plain straight arm pitching, even up-shoots being barred. The catcher always plays close up behind the batter.
The bases, made of white canvas, are half filled with sand, and not fastened to the floor. It is placed loosely on a marked spot, and if the player takes it along with him when “sliding for a base” he is entitled to it.
There are two umpires, and their lots are not happy ones. The players are so close together that an umpire must be quick of eye, or the rapidity of play will prevent him from observing it closely.
Instead of “spikes” in their shoes, the players wear rubber soles, corrugated rubber being preferred.
In other respects the rules of indoor baseball are essentially the same as those of the National League.
November 24, 1889
Chicago Sunday Tribune, July 28, 1935
The new Windy City softball league will open play Wednesday night with three games at Litsinger park, Ashland and Wellington avenues, beginning at 7:30 o’clock.
Games will be played under the lights every Wednesday for ten weeks. The league will use the 16 inch ball, with slow pitching.
Judge Herbert G. Immenhausen is commissioner and the George Young company league sponsor. It is planned to build regular parks next year and conduct Chicago’s first major softball league., according to Promoter Harry Hanin.
Wednesday night’s schedule:
7:30—Albany Park All-Stars vs. Rep. Bolton-Consentinos
8:30—Hqnnin Klein Did-Its vs. Nevilles A. C.
9:30—Rep. Adduci’s vs. National Tea
Harry Hannin was the main organizer and president of the Windy City Softball and Basketball Leagues from 1934 to 1949. His 1925 team, the Hannin Did Its, won fifty-five games in a row. These victories inspired the rush to play sixteen-inch softball. Twenty-six future major leaguers, including Lou Boudreau and Bill “Moose” Skowron, played in the Windy City League. It attracted 2,500-10,000 viewers per game and was often the premier event for spectators during that era. Each team had its own home field…Hillburn, Schubert, Bidwell, Parichy, St. Phillips, and Lane Tech to name a few. They had paid attendance of 389,000 over two seasons in the late 1940s at two fields. The players were paid for each game with more going to the winners. Hannin seemd to always have a cigar in his mouth and was often looking to make another deal.
Softball and the 1933 A Century of Progress
The sport made a giant leap in 1933 when a Chicago American reporter and sporting goods salesman organized a softball tournament in conjunction with the World’s Fair. Leo Fischer (the reporter) and Michael Pauley (the salesman) invited 55 teams to compete in three tournament divisions: men’s fastpitch, men’s slowpitch and women’s. More than 350,000 spectators watched tournament games at the ball field inside the World’s Fair grounds. The championship games were played at Chicago Stadium on September 15, 1933 in which the J.L. Friedman Boosters team from Chicago beat Briggs Beautyware of Detroit to win the slow-pitch tournament.
Time Magazine, September 26, 1939
Softball was very popular in Chicago especially indoor action in armories. The reason that the ball was 16″ in size was based on one main reason. The parks and schoolyards were so small 14″ balls flew out into the street. The 16″ ball worked perfectly and also because of the depression, no one could afford gloves. The sport was accepted and enjoyed by all. The game was very popular way ethnic groups competed. One team of Italians (the Nut House Café) was sponsored by the architect of the St. Valentines Massacre, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurne. He was known to bet $10,000 on his team (value of $100,000 today)!
The success of the 1933/34 National Softball Tournaments spurred the founding of the Amateur Softball Association in the fall of 1933. The Association brought much-needed standardized rules to the game. The ASA has always believed that softball is a game for all ages of participants, so it has set rules for different age groups. A 12-inch ball is now the standard with many youth leagues using an easier to handle 11-inch size. Some leagues play a variation of softball using a 16-inch ball.
One unique part of the game was 10th player was the short center covering the area around second base. (There was no need to play in the outfield) The bases were moved from 45′ to 60′ and ball pitched with a higher and slower arch. Most Chicago citizens in park districts played the no glove game after World War II and the Korean conflict, but not with flair of the Windy City League.
Sixteen-inch softball, also sometimes referred to as “mush ball” or “super-slow pitch”, is a direct descendant of Hancock’s original game. Defensive players are not allowed to wear fielding gloves; however, a 16-inch softball is actually soft, and can be fielded safely with bare hands. Sixteen-inch softball is played extensively in Chicago.
No glove softball is still played by Chicagoans and the best of the best have played at Forest Park’s No Glove Nationals in front of thousands of fans for over 30 years, without a doubt the premier event each year. The few of the best leagues have been played at Clarendon Park, Portage Park, James Park in Evanston in the North and Normandy Park, Washington Park and Kelly Park on the Southside to name a few. The best ball today is played in Mt Prospect is also the site of many National Tournaments.
Many Nationals have been played out of Illinois. In 2004 both the Major and A Nationals were played in Arizona and attracted the most states to compete in 20 years. The sport has traveled to different cities due to Chicagoans moving, but the reality is when men and women play the sport they realize it takes more skill, is safer, less time to play, and more fun than 12″.
The legendary Whitt Hanley Yankees, Kool Vent, Brown Bombers, Bobcats, Sobies (American Rivet), Lettuce (Touch), Whips and now the 45’s as the greatest teams of all time.
Chicago Daily News columnist, Mike Royko, was a fervent devotee of 16-inch softball as a player and team sponsor. After his death, he was inducted into the Chicago 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame, an honor Royko’s family insists he would have considered as meaningful as his Pulitzer—in the closing seconds of “Royko at the Goat,” the documentary by Scott Jacobs, Royko is heard saying, “The Pulitzer Prize can’t compare to hitting a home run.”
Hand Injury Patterns in Softball Players Using a 16 inch Ball
Henry Degroot MD, Daniel P. Mass, MD
Softball is a popular recreational and competitive sport among both men and women. The injury rate in softball players is as high as that in baseball and basketball players. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 119 hand injuries in 108 patients treated at the University of Chicago hand clinic. All of the injuries were caused by the impact of a 16 inch circumference softball.
Of the 119 injuries, 87 (73%) had bone involvement. Operative treatment was required in 26 (22%) injuries, 23 involving fractures and 3 involving soft tissue only. There was one (3.8%) operative complication. Of all injuries, 101 (86%) involved the finger joints, including 46 (39%) injuries to the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint, 48 (40%) to the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint, and 7 (6%) to the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint.
The most common DIP joint injury was a mallet injury. This fracture, the most common single type of injury in our series, accounted for 27% of all injuries. Of all mallet injuries, 86% were fractures. The most common PIP joint injury was a volar plate fracture, the second most common injury in our series.
Variables such as the patient’s sex, dominance or nondominance of hands, and early or late season play were not associated with a higher risk of injury. Certain parts of the hand, such as the more ulnar digits and the DIP and PIP joints, were at particularly high risk of injury.
A FEW SOFTBALL PATENTS
Albert Fegan was born in Chicago in 1901. When he was a young man, he was offered a job by George Young at the George Young Plant and Company. Founded in 1893, the company, located on Western Avenue in Chicago, manufactured baseball and softballs.
On July 21, 1925 at twenty-four years of age, Albert was issued a patent for an indoor baseball. America was discovering the love of indoor games and Albert’s patent solved a major problem with indoor baseballs. The ball was too heavy to be driven in the proper direction or distance when struck by a bat. Albert’s invention lightened the ball’s core to ensure a truer flight. He was awarded a similar patent for the softball on May 25, 1937.
In the accompanying drawings:
Fig. 1 is an outside view of an indoor baseball embodying my invention.
Fig. 2 is a central, vertical, sectional view.
Fig. 3 is a view of the ball with the outer cover and the different layers partially turned b~ck so as to more fully indicate the construction.
In said drawing, A represents the ball as a whole; B the outer cover; C the core; and D the layer intel’mediate the cover and the core, the parts being substantially of a size to form a fourteen inch ball.
The material of which the core is composed and the construction of the core are of the essence of my invention. Said core C is composed of a resilient substance in ranular form, suitably united by a proper inder which will not detract, per se, from or interfere with its resiliency. I prefer to use cork in granulated form or small pieces, as indicated at l, as the material for the core, but an other material having the same or equiva ent resilient action as core may be used. These small pieces of cork are mixed with a suitable binding element, indicated at 2. The mass is then pressed into spherical shape or form in a mould or other appropriate machine, substantially eleven and one half inches in circumference and usually held therein until the binder has dried sufficiently to hold the cork held in spherical form.
I prefer, however, in order to facilitate manufacture, to wrap the core, when molded, with a few turns of cotton yarn 3 immediately it is formed,that is, with a sufficient wrapping of the yarn to prevent the core C from losing its spherical shape after leaving the mold and while the binder is setting and drying.
I then enclose the core in a layer of horse hair D, of a thickness required to make the predetermined circumference for a given sized ball, and secure the layer D in place by a few wrappings of cotton yarn 4c. Finally the leather sections 5 and 6 are placed about the structure and their marginal abutting edges secured together in a familiar manner by stitches 7 to form the outer cover B.
The binding material 2 which I prefer to use is aliquid cement of rubber, the liquid element of which is gasoline or other volatile liquid which will readily evaporate upon exposure to the atmosphere, leaving the rubber in intimate contact with the particles of cork and pro erly binding them together Without lessening the resilient action of the cork, but in fact contributing to the resilient action of the core C as a Whole.
I prefer to use cotton yarn as the Winding element both about the core C and the horse hair layer D, but floss or other material may `ot course be used.
As the result of practical tests in use eX- tending over a period of months, I find that an indoor baseball of the fourteen inch size herein above referred to, and made in accordance with my invention, issubstantially two ounces lighter in Weight than a ball of the same size having a core of goat hair or other material; that it seems even much lighter to the user; that it is sufficiently A heavy to be driven in a desired direction and to the desired distance when struck by a bat; that it is a much liveliei ball; that it has quicker flight; that it is durable and possesses a longer life than indoor baseballs heretofore made. These are practical and 8l desirable qualities in an indoor baseball and quite opposite to the qualities required for other types of ball, such as a cricket ball, tennis ball, outdoor baseball or hand ball.
This invention relates to baseballs and other kindred products such as softballs and playground balls.
A conventional baseball consists of a resilient spherical core enveloped by a cover comprising two identical figure-of-B portions of leather or imitation leather sewed together in the familiar manner-the sewing of the cover seams being in all cases a hand operation.
Heretofore, it has been customary in the baseball manufacturing industry to employ relatively low-paid home-workers to sew covers-particularly the covers of the cheapest grades of merchandise-because only by so doing could the cost of sewing be kept low enough to enable a manufacturer to produce the cheapest grades of baseballs competitively. And it is generally true that the cheapest grades of baseballs with sewed covers have always represented a loss to the manufacturer or, at any rate, an unprofitable part of the business-but a part which no manufacturer, individually, could discontinue without suffering a loss of sales of higher priced profitable items.
Modern social legislation has made it impossible to continue the manufacture of hand-sewed baseballs which can be retailed at ten cents and hand-sewed softballs which can be retailed at twenty-five cents, because the loss on such items is now more than the industry can absorb; but there is still a very large and insistent demand for baseballs and softballs at the above-mentioned price levels. The industry has tried to satisfy this market with balls having no covers in the usual sense; balls comprising simply thread wound cores dipped in latex and vulcanized. Such a product will serve its purpose well enough; but the young boys and girls who constitute the principal market for cheap baseballs are not satisfied. Such products offend their 40 pride of ownership because they do not even look like big league baseballs.
The chief object of my present invention is a ball which can be manufactured cheaply enough to sell without loss at the lowest price levels and which looks as much as possible like a conventional baseball or softball and, at the same time, is sufficiently durable to withstand for a reasonable time such usage as can be expected from young children.
My invention contemplates a new baseball and softball cover having no sewed seam, but having instead, preferably, a molded seam which is produced as an incident to the molding of the cover to be satisfactory. The new cover is a vulcanized latex composition consisting of a mixture of latex and a thickener such as flock and rutileflock being finely divided cotton, while rutile is titanium dioxide (T102). ‘A cover of such composition, when produced and applied according to a method hereinafter described simulates to a gratifying degree, in appearance and texture, the usual leather cover. The simulation is not so faithful as to be at all deceptive, but it is suggestive enough to satisfy a childs preference for a ball which has the appearance of a regular baseball or softball. Such a cover is adequately durable, though not comparable in that respect to a good leather cover; and its cost of production is very low. Thus, I am able, by virtue of this invention, to produce profitably, or at least without substantial loss, a line of very cheap baseballs and softballs which are entirely acceptable to the trade.
A preferred embodiment of my invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawing wherein:
Fig. l is a section through a ball embodying my invention;
Fig. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary section illustrating a section of the ball enclosed in a mold, and
Fig. 3 is an elevation of a ball with a section cut from the outer portion thereof and bent upwardly.
Like reference characters indicate like parts throughout the drawing.
The playing ball embodying my present invention is an improvement over a ball which is and has been in use for some time. Such prior use ball has been provided with a cover which is composed of a yarn winding the various threads of which are cemented together to form a onepiece flexible protective shell around the ball. In preparing such winding the yarn has been coated or impregnated with latex or an equivalent rubber-like material wound tightly around a spherical core to form a shell which is made up of threads of yarn completely encase in rubberlike material. Playing balls made in the foregoing manner have had a rough, unsightly outer surface caused by the irregularities of the yarn winding. The playing ball embodying applicants invention also comprises a core surrounded by a protective shell formed of a yarn winding at least the outer threads of which are cemented together by a latex compound, having a cellular structure. Additionally, however, a thin outer skin or cover also cellular in structure is provided and which simulates a sewed seam well enough which is integral with the protective shell. Such outer layer conceals the irregularities due to the windings of the protective shell and very greatly enhances the appearance of the ball and correspondingly increases its salability.
In fabricating a playing ball in accordance with my invention I first prepare a pervious core I preferably formed of suitable compressible material and which, when compressed, is resilient and elastic. I usually employ a fibrous material such as kapok, felt clips, excelsior or sisal fiber for the core. The core is then Wound with a layer of yarn or thread 2 which serves both to compress the core and maintain the same in spherical form. The thread is preferably comparatively small and may be of the order of coarse sewing thread, although any thread which is sufficiently strong for the purposemay be used.
In carrying out my invention I prepare a latex compound by mixing in a suitable receptacle 1atex with a filler or thickener, preferably flock and rutile- (TiOz), though I am not limited to these particular materials as a thickener. The mixture also carries a certain amount of water either that which is naturally in latex or that which is added to the compound, or both. The molding operation hereinafter described may be carried out more expeditiously and cheaply by using the latex compound in a wet condition. A sufficient amount of thickener should be used to impart to the fluid mixture a viscous consistency considerably thicker than that of ordinary paint as usually applied so that a sufiicient amount of material will adhere to the ball when dipped.
In accordance with my invention, the ball is placed in a suitable mold 3 (Fig. 2) the interior of which is approximately the same size as the ball consisting of the core and the winding.
I have hitherto made a ball by dipping the ball in the latex mixture of the character described above and then placing the same in the mold. Since the ball consisting of core and winding is approximately the same size as the interior of the mold, the dipped ball will necessarily be larger than the interior of the mold and when the mold is closed some of the mixture is forced into the interstices between the threads of the winding while the excess mixture is forced from the mold between the two sections thereof. The mold is heated by electricity or otherwise and when the latex mixture is subjected to the heat of the mold, the water contained therein is converted to steam some of which is forced into the interior of the core. Steam also seeks to escape from the mold outwardly but is limited in its outwardmovement by the solid mold. I believe, however, that the steam does escape through the latex mixture to a position against the inner wall of the mold where it displaces some of the latex compound and forms depressions on the outer surface of the ball which I shall, for convenience, term miniature craters or pock marks which present, particularly in the vicinity of the seams of the ball, an unsightly appearance which detracts from the salabilityof the ball. However, inasmuch as the ball is closely confined, considerable pressure is exerted by steam which has been forced into the core of the ball and thisv has a tendency to expand the ball and force some of the latex compound outwardly against the wall of the mold. Some of the latex compound is forced through. the steam pockets breaking them up into smaller pockets. Therefore, when the ball is removed from the mold, its surface where such steam has accumulated has a coarse honey-combed appearance. I believe that the honey-combed or cellular appearance of the surface of the ball is due to the mingling of the steam with the latex compound during the vulcanizing process. Such honeycombed appearance detracts from the appearance of the ball.
In order to prevent the appearance of such unsightly craters over the outer surface of the ball, I paint the inner surface of the mold with a thin layer 5 of the latex compound of the character above described before inserting the dipped ball in the mold. Care must be taken, however, to insert the dipped ball and close the mold before the thin painted layer has vulcanized, as otherwise the thin skin formed from the layer painted on the interior of the mold will not amalgamate and become integral with the latex compound of the ball which results from the dipping. When such thin layer is painted on the interior of the mold it sets almost immediately and conforms to the inner surface of the mold. Then when the dipped ball is inserted in the mold any steam which is generated cannot displace this thin outer layer which has now set and the finished ball has an outer surface which isrelatively free from the coarse honey-combed or cellular structure above referred to. It is, however, still honey-combed or cellular but craters or pock marks on the surfaceare so small that they do not substantially detract from the appearance of the ball. The latex compound which fills the interstices between the threads of the winding is formed with such cellular structure.
If the wet painted layer is allowed to set or vulcanize completely and is then removed from the mold without any dipped ball being inserted it-conforms almost exactly to the shape and patternof the mold and yet shows a pervious cellular structure which I believe is due to water boiling out of the latex mixture as it sets or vulcanizes.
As stated above, the wound core is approximately the size of the mold, and when the clipped ball is inserted in an unpainted mold, the closing of the mold forces most of the latex compound from the. surface of the yarn winding, and the criss-cross pattern of the yarn winding is plainly visible although the surface of the ball is smooth. However, when the mold is first painted before inserting the dipped ball, such thin latex layer sets and then when the dipped ball is inserted and the mold closed, the thin skin remains between the. yarn and the interior of the mold, and while it does not entirely conceal the crisscross appearance of the threads, it does tone it down to such anextent that the ball presents a more pleasing appearance. The usual seam of the ball is indicated at 4.
While I have given the theory of what I believe takes place when a dipped ball is inserted directly in a heated mold and also in a heated mold. which is painted in its interior with a thin layer of latex compound prior to the insertion of the clipped ball, it will, of course, be understood that it is not possible to observe what takes place within the mold and I am not bound by any theory. I do know, however, that there is a very marked improvement in the character of the ball produced by first painting the interior of the heated mold before inserting the dipped ball as compared with the ball produced by inse-rting the dipped ball directly in the heated mold.
It will, of course, be understood that the ball is molded with the latex compound in a wet condition. By forming the outer portion of the ball as well as the outer layer with a pervious cellular structure any moisture remaining in the ball after it is removed from the mold may be forced out by heating the ball. This feature is of particularirnportance because the presence of moisture in the ball reduces its resiliency.
While I have described my invention in its preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the words which I have used are words of description rather than of limitation. Hence, changes within the purview of the appended claims may be made without departing from the true scope and spirit of my invention in its broader aspects.
On July 20, 1954, Albert Fegan was awarded a patent for a new and novel way to secure the cover on baseballs and softballs. This patent was for the “concealed stitch”, which allowed the stitches to be placed underneath to cover. Prior to this invention, softballs didn’t last very long on the hard surfaces of Chicago’s street and parks. Albert’s invention “hid” the stitches so the ball would last longer. Many softball experts think this was the precursor to the “Clincher” design made famous by DeBeers.
My invention relates to improvements in the art of covered balls and the like and methods of making same. More particularly my invention relates to a new method of manufacture for securing cover members on covered balls, such as baseballs, and the like, and to a new structure in such balls which eliminates the use of stitching to secure the cover members.
Prior to my invention, one of the major costs in the manufacture of balls, such as indoor baseballs or outdoor baseballs, has been the cost of the labor required for securing the ball cover members on the ball. The prior methods included the hand sewing of the cover members and it will be easily apparent that to eliminate the necessity for manually sewing the cover memhere together is a great stride in the art.
To my knowledge no prior device has been constructed for sewing the ball cover members together and which eliminated the necessity of the manual sewing. However, in order to solve the problem of eliminating the necessity of manual sewing, I approached the problem from a new direction and by utilizing some of the physical properties of the material of the covering members, I have been able to eliminate entirely the necessity of stitching the cover members together by sewing, either manual or mechanical.
It is an object of my invention to provide a cover for baseballs and the like which eliminates the use of stitches to secure the cover members. It is an object of my invention, therefore, to provide a new and novel means for securing covers on baseballs and the like.
It is a further object of my invention to provide a new means for mounting cover members on baseballs by employing an adhesive substance or the like to attach the cover to the core of the ball.
Other and further objects of my invention will become apparent from the following description and appended claims, reference being made to the accompanying drawings and numerals of reference thereon.
On the drawings:
Fig. l is an elevational view of a ball illustrating one embodiment of my invention, a portion of a cover member being broken away.
Fig. 2 is an elevational view of the cover member of Fig. 3 after it has been molded to conform to the contour of the ball.
Fig. 3 is a view of the outer surface of a conventional cover member and before molding.
Fig. 4 is an exploded view of the ball of Fig. 1.
Referring to Fig. 4, it will be seen that numeral 10, I designates a conventional ball core or the like, the outer portion of Which may be formed or made of wound string or thread 11. It should be understood that my invention is not to be limited to any particular kind of core or any particular materials comprising the core. And it should be further understood that my invention is equally applicable and may be utilized in connection with hard balls or baseballs, soft balls or indoor balls, or any playing balls which have a cover member or members secured on the outside of a ball core.
As illustrated in Fig. 3, numeral 13 designates a conventional cover member which is ordinarily in the shape of a figure 8 and made of leather or the like and which is adapted to cooperate with another substantially identical member to provide a cover for a ball core 10.
In order to simulate the stitching which is present on the conventional types of prior balls, line 14 representing the stitches may optionally be stamped on the cover member in the appropriate positions as illustrated on the drawings. If desired, a plurality of holes or apertures 15 are utilized to facilitate enhanced securance of the cover members to the core.
The cover members in their conventional form, as illustrated in Fig. 3, are flat and do not adapt themselves to be secured by adhesion to the curved surface of the core because a great deal of manual manipulation would be required and no savings would be achieved by attempting to apply the substantially flat cover member 13 in the appropriate position on the core 10.
Inasmuch as cover members of leather or the like adapt themselves to heat treatment and may be made to assume another configuration than that of the flat member which is illustrated in Fig. 3, by heat-treating the cover member, it can be made to substantially conform to the shape of the core 10. The heat-treated and molded cover member is illustrated in side elevation in Fig. 2 and is designated as numeral 16. A wide variety of ranges of temperature and time may be used for securing the desired molding of the cover member, but I have found the most favorable temperature to be to 200 Fahrenheit, such temperature giving the desired flexibility and permitting retention of the desired physical characteristics of the leather cover member.
In the molded configuration illustrated in Figs. 2 and 4, the cover members 16 may easily be assembled and secured by adhesion on the ball core 10. Any suitable means or method for causing adhesion of the molded cover members 16 to the core it may be utilized. However, I have found that iatex is among the better bonding or adhesive materials.
In the preferred method of assembly, the core 10 is dipped, sprayed or brushed with latex and is permitted to fully or partially set or dry. The cover members 16 are partially impregnated with an ammonia solution of latex and the ammonia solution of latex is permitted to dry or partially dry until a very slight tackiness is present on under surface of the cover members 16. I then apply latex on the top of the core member 10, which preferably already has a coating of nearly dry latex, and assemble the molded cover members it and permit the latex or adhesive substance to set or dry. To speed the setting process at the same time to insure the proper relation of the cover members 16 to the core 10, the assembled ball may be subjected to temperatures of 180 to 200 Fahrenheit and preferably in a mold. It will be appreciated that the provision of the apertures 15 provides means for achieving a greater bonding of the cover members 16, portions of the latex, cementitious or adhesive terial extending into the apertures 15.
I found that the end product which resuits from the use of novel method is highly superior to priorly known balls because the bond or the cover members to the ball is so strong that the forces which tend to cause removal of the cover members from the core 10 will first effect a tearing of the leather cover member. In prior balls it is only necessary to break the stitching which secured the cover members 13 together in order to render the ball useless.
As changes could be made in the above construction, and as many apparently widely different embodiments of my invention within the scope of the claims could be constructed without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, it is intended that all matter contained the accompanying specification shall be irterpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.