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SA_BB_Machines_smallThe Story Behind the Design….

Members of our product design group grew up in the baseball industry, from playing the sport to coaching it, all the way to designing and manufacturing some of the first pitching machines. Through years of intimate personal experience as well as significant relationships developed through the years with baseball coaches at all levels, our folks were not only keenly aware of the needs of the coach and player but also understood both the strengths and weaknesses of each pitching machine design that had been manufactured over the years.

 
To learn more about each machine click the name of the product: eHack, Junior Hack Attack and Hack Attack .

The Design
Our design began by identifying wheels as the most efficient ball throwing mechanism. Wheels can control ball spin, throw breaking pitches, provide accuracy, and deliver the much-needed speed. The true uniqueness to our machine is the use of a third wheel. The location of the three wheels visually opens the ball chute, allowing the hitter to see the ball through acceleration and release, providing complete vision and timing. By simply changing wheel speed, any breaking pitch could be instantly dialed in as the third wheel eliminated the need to pivot the throwing head when changing pitches. Accuracy, ball control and speed were also improved due to the increased amount of ball surface being captured. Additional benefits of the third wheel were a reduction of throwing wheel and ball wear.

Other important characteristics of the design were to incorporate safety features that kept the operator protected from moving parts. Ease of vertical and horizontal controls were also key for pitch location and fungo work. In addition, portability was a requirement, providing mobility on and off the field for ease of use, storage and transport.

Specifications

eHACK ATTACK HACK ATTACK JUNIOR HACK ATTACK
Level of Play High school, college, professional and commercial High school, college, professional and commercial Youth league, backyard, machine-pitch games, travel teams, drills at all levels including high school, college and professional
Pitches Programmable fastballs, curves, sliders, change-up,split fingers and knuckle Fastballs, curves, sliders, , change-up, split fingers and knuckle Same as Hack Attack
Fungo N/A Pivots instantly for pop-ups,
fly balls and grounders
Same as Hack Attack
Assembled Weight 185 lbs. 145 lbs. 75 lbs.
Transportability Fits into any SUV or full size car, fits through standard doorway Fits into any SUV or full size car, fits through standard doorway Fits into any compact car,
including a Mini Cooper
Automatic
Feeders
Can use either Solo Feeder
or the Team Feeder (150 ball)
Can use either Solo Feeder (15 ball) or the Team Feeder (150 ball) Same as Hack Attack
Electrical Requirements 110V
(220/240 V available via Step down Transformer)
110V and 220/240V also available Same as Hack Attack
Ball Types All types, including leather
(see accessories)
All types, including leather
(see accessories)
Same as Hack Attack
and 7.5″ training ball
Ball Sizes Baseball only (softball unit available) Can be converted to softball using conversion kit Can be converted to softball using conversion kit and can also be converted to use 7.5″ vision training balls
Buy-Button Buy-Button Buy-Button

 
 
Our design began by identifying wheels as the most efficient ball throwing mechanism. Wheels can throw breaking pitches, provide accuracy, and deliver the much-needed speed. The true uniqueness to our machine is the use of a third wheel. The location of the three wheels visually opens the ball chute, allowing the hitter to see the ball through acceleration and release, providing complete vision and timing. By simply changing wheel speed, any breaking pitch could be instantly dialed in as the third wheel eliminated the need to pivot the throwing head when changing pitches. Accuracy and ball control were also improved due to the increased amount of ball surface being captured. Additional benefits of the third wheel were a reduction of throwing wheel and ball wear.

Other important characteristics of the design were to incorporate safety features that kept the operator protected from moving parts. Ease of vertical and horizontal controls were also key for pitch location and fungo work. In addition, portability was a requirement, providing mobility on and off the field and for storage.

 
Performance Comparison

e-HACK ATTACK HACK ATTACK JUNIOR HACK ATTACK
Speed 100+ MPH 100+ MPH 70+ MPH
Distance 60 feet 60 feet 45 feet (simulates 90+ MPH)
Vision Complete ball vision provides a realistic sense of timing Complete ball vision provides
a realistic sense of timing
Same as Hack Attack
Accuracy The ball is gripped in three locations, providing tremendous control and accuracy The ball is gripped in three
locations, providing tremendous
control and accuracy
Same as Hack Attack
Efficiency Fully programmable Dial-in pitch selection without
throwing head adjustments,
maximizes practice time
Same as Hack Attack
Fungo N/A 380 ft. fly balls 250 ft. fly balls
Portability Quickly rolls on and off the field Quickly rolls on and off the field Same as Hack Attack
Recovery Time 8 seconds, because machine may be changing pitches between pitches 5 seconds, because of the three wheels, it’s almost instant Same as Hack Attack
Price $8,999 $3,299 $2,199
Buy-Button Buy-Button Buy-Button

 
 
Because of the features of the Hack Attack, major league coaches are now using a pitching machine not only all season in practices but also prior to games in warm-ups. They are frequently setting the machine to simulate the pitches their hitters will be facing that night. Even pinch hitters are hitting off of the machine just prior to being called up. With the validity of the timing element, even many coaches who avoided pitching machines all together in the past now include them as an important tool in their daily practice. Taking notice, teams at all levels are replacing existing machines with the new
Hack Attack.

For younger players and specific drills at all levels of competition, the Hack Attack was quickly followed by the Junior Hack Attack. It is equal in quality but designed for use at shorter distances. The Junior is perfect for use at home in backyard cages, little league practices, machine pitch games and travel ball.

 
The Advantage of Wheels

FEATURE 3-WHEEL
eHACK ATTACK,
HACK ATTACK & JUNIOR
2-WHEEL
MACHINES
1-WHEEL MACHINES ARM
MACHINES
Vision Complete
provides a realistic
sense of timing
Poor Poor Poor
motion hidden
by arm guard
Timing Excellent
natural
Poor
limited vision
Poor
limited vision
Good
Accuracy Excellent
three-point contact
Good
two-point contact
Fair
one-point contact
Good
Breaking Pitch All
quick adjustment
All
awkward – slow adjustments
Unrealistic Spin Fastball Only
single pitch
Fungo Excellent
pivots instantly
Good – Fair Poor
limited distance
Poor
no pivot
Safety Excellent
wheel guards
protect operator>
Poor
limited –
no wheel guards
Poor
limited –
no wheel guards
Excellent
Portability Excellent Good Good Very Poor
completely immoble
Ball Grip Area Excellent
three contact points
Good
two contact points
Poor
one contact point
N/A
Spin Control Exceptional
no cumbersome adjustments of throwing head
Good-Poor
must move throwing head
Unrealistic
excessive spin
Backspin Only
Wheel Diameter Excellent
Large 14″ wheels, pin-point accuracy, less ball wear
Good
smaller wheels
increase wear
Poor
requires pinch pad, heavy ball wear
N/A
propels ball using
a mechanical arm
Throwing Head
Size & Weight
Excellent
no recoil of any kind
Good – Poor
lighter, some recoil
Poor
snubbing action causes recoil
Poor
recoil requires bolting to concrete base

 
 

 

Background on Pitching Machines
The first arm machines that were used were unguarded, leading to some very tragic accidents. Arm machines then needed to be heavily guarded, limiting the vision advantage. Due to the enormous recoil generated by the arm, the machines also had to be bolted to concrete pads, making them stationery and not available for field or fungo work. Even today arm machines remain bulky and massive. The strengths of this design were some level of vision and timing. The weaknesses were that it was limited to only fastballs, completely immobile and still carried a concern for safety.

The innovators of the wheel machines saw the ability to throw curve balls as the ultimate feature in pitching machines. While the initial wheel machines threw curve balls, they ignored the need for portability and for guarding throwing wheels. Slowly improvements were made to introduce some portability and fungo capabilities but essentially the basic design has stayed the same. The strength of these units was certainly the curve ball, although they required awkward and time-consuming adjustments in order to change the type of pitch. One of the major deficiencies was the lack of the all important vision and timing feature. This meant that wheel driven pitching machines at the higher levels of play were frequently considered just pre season or off-season tools, avoided during the season because it was felt they affected a hitter’s sense of timing. Following the two-wheel machines, the disc machine was introduced. It provided some vision and timing along with the ability to do effective fungo work. For this it sacrificed breaking pitches, a huge deficiency. We concluded that the ultimate pitching machine should be accurate, have adequate velocity, throw breaking pitches, have fungo capabilities, be portable and above all, provide the all important vision and timing.