Patent Portal: Aydelott Exercising Ball

Jacob Aydelott (1861-1926) pitched in the American Association for the 1884 Indianapolis Hoosiers and 1886 Philadelphia Athletics. He compiled a 5-9 record, posted a 4.79 ERA, and fanned 30 in his 124 big league innings. After a pair of seasons in the minors, his professional career fizzled. As of 1902, however, he was still pitching locally for the Marion, Indiana nine and struck out 18 in the league championship game over Ft. Wayne on September 1.

exercising ball 749,147

Ever the inventive type, Aydelott was granted a patent in 1904 for his “Exercising-Ball,” essentially a wooden baseball that was halved and fitted with a spring. It was Aydelott’s claim that the tension exerted on the pitcher’s hand by keeping the spring-loaded device closed would “strengthen and develop and train the muscles of the thumb, fingers, wrist, hand, and arm.”

Aydelott’s patent portfolio also included a parlor baseball game (336,076), a water bag and fountain syringe (783,827), and window screen (1,289,077).

Despite his limited success in the professional ranks, the forty-two-year-old boasted that his years-long use of the training aid allowed him to pitch without having to “limber up” and had prevented any “‘sore’ or ‘glass’ arm.” Aydelott also claimed to have lost only one game in his past two seasons pitching across Indiana. Regardless, his Exercising-Ball was not a commercial success.

“Games in the State,” Indianapolis Journal, September 2, 1902, 2.
“Baseball Inventions,” The Boston Globe, April 24, 1904, 24.
Nemec, David. The Rank and File of 19th Century Major League Baseball. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., Inc., 2012.
U.S. Patent Nos.: 336,076; 749,147; 783,827; and, 1,289,077.

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