Warning Issued On Automatic Baseball Pitching Machines

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 1977
Release #77-078

Warning Issued On Automatic Baseball Pitching Machines

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) today issued an urgent warning to purchasers and users of certain automatic baseball pitching machines of the potential for severe bodily injury which the machines present. The machines are labeled as follows: "Blazer (Champ)," the "Professional," "Range, " "Pro-Trainer (Olympia)," and/or the "Dudley Automatic Pitching Machine." They were manufactured by Commercial Mechanisms, Inc., of Spring Park, Minnesota, and Kansas City, Missouri.

The Commission has two reports of permanent and severe brain damage resulting from these machines. There are about 18 other injuries including brain concussions, severe lacerations and severe facial disfigurement.

The Commission has authorized its staff to prepare the necessary papers for filing a complaint in U.S. District Court seeking recall of the machines and a declaration that they are an imminent hazard.

About 5,000 of these machines have been distributed throughout the United States to schools, colleges, clubs, recreation departments, and other athletic organizations. They were manufactured from 1963 to 1975.

The Commission is asking consumers who have access to or know the location of a machine to call tie U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's toll-free hotline 800/638-2772.

The pitching machines have rotary pitching arms propelled by a gasoline engine or electric motor which powers a gear, pulley and tension spring mechanism.

The revolving pitching arm which has no guard retains sufficient energy to "pitch" even though the machines are unplugged or disconnected. This energy can release the pitching arm after only slight vibration of the machine. The downward rotation of the pitching arm at high velocity has resulted in serious injuries to persons in its path. The pitching arm may also separate from the machine during operation, becoming an uncontrolled and potentially lethal missile. The machines may also fire pitches erratically in unintended directions.

Consumers are alerted to follow these important safety precautions:

1 - Avoid placing any portion of the body within the arc or path through which the pitching arm revolves, unless the machine is disconnected from its power source and the coil spring is disengaged from the spring holder.

2 - Disengage the coil spring from the spring holder after use, and lock the machine in a location that will restrict unauthorized or unsupervised access.

3 - If the machine must be moved, disconnect the machine from its power source and disengage the coil spring from the spring holder before moving.

4 - Never store the pitching machine with the pitching arm in the 10:00 o'clock position.


An Example of A Pitching Machine With An Unguarded Arm

(Blazer "Little Champ" Model)
Guardless


Picture of Automatic Baseball Pitching Machine