> Very soon, I hope to be in a position to purchase a softball pitching
> machine for some friends in Europe. I am aware of two "names" in this
> market: JUGS and ATEC.
ATEC makes a bunch of models. I am familiar with two:
At around $1500, "Hummer" is what I would call a "production"
pitching machine. It is rugged and delivers pitches at 19-65 MPH. (We
clocked ours with a radar gum after the last tune-up.) Speed is set by
moving a lever to one of 8 settings.
The Hummer is very rugged and will throw essentially anything
softball-sized. The mechanism uses two 15" cloth-covered plates to flip
the ball underhand to a batter. It will not throw curves with standard
or plastic balls, but whiffle balls can be a LOT of fun. Throws
anything that will fit in the feed slot. Moves around and breaks down
for storage quite easily. 60 lbs?
You can throw fielding practice also with this machine, but I prefer
players to respond to the sound of the bat.
We have an AC-powered unit that is 6-7 years old. It did have a tune-
up two years ago, but has NEVER (even before the overhaul) given a
single bit of trouble in any way, shape or form.
IF YOUR BUDS HAVE A PERMANENT CAGE FACILITY WITH NEARBY STORAGE (no
pitching machine is weather-proof.), THIS IS WHAT I WOULD BUY. I HAVE
NO RESERVATIONS MAKING THIS RECOMMENDATION.
"Rookie" is a small Hummer. Costs around $1000.
A Rookie will also throw balls to about 55-60 MPH, but it is enough
smaller that I don't class it as a "production" machine. I would be
very reluctant to use real softballs in it, but I've used one used with
regular plastic balls, whiffle balls, and even whiffle golf balls.
I don't have any long-term experience with a Rookie. Breaks down
quickly and has wheels to move easily. 30 lbs?
ATEC makes battery powered units, but that would only add to the 220V
wierdness in Europe. Perhaps they make charger units for 220V ops.
IF YOUR FRIENDS EXPECT TO TRAVEL A LOT, OR HAVE TO TAKE EQUIPMENT HOME
FOR STORAGE, GET THIS. A Hummer is too bulky for an American car!
I have also used a JUGS "Jr." Very rugged production machine. Uses a
massive flat *** wheel to pinch a ball between a plate; the
adjustment of the gap is important, but easily set with a T-handle
JUGS Jr throws fastballs only, and will throw faster than an ATEC
Hummer. Speed is continuously variable via a dial. Will only throw one
size ball at a time - must be adjusted to throw different sizes.
I've borrowed a machine for practice. The thing is HEAVY - my friend
cobbled his own no-wheel base together so we had to carry it. I'd
recommend an official base. 80 lbs?
A good machine, but I like the Hummer best.
A full-size JUGS has two wheels. What the advantage over the one-
wheel Jr. is, I can't say. Real big, looks REALLY HEAVY. I've seen
several, but never in action. Also looks to be built very ruggedly.
Has to weigh 100+ lbs.
ATEC makes a machine like a JUGS, but it has wheels with a ball-size
groove in them. They claim it will throw a curve if you tilt it. I've
only seen pictures of this thing.
ATEC also makes a 2-machine (hah!) base so you can have a fastball
machine next to a tilted curve machine. Whoa - big bucks!