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Eau Claire's Baseball History


   This summer marks the 60th anniversary of Hank Aaron's appearance with the Eau Claire Bears. To celebrate the history of baseball in the Eau Claire Area, and in conjunction with McIntyre Library's display of "Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience," students from Dr. John Mann's Public History Course conducted oral history interviews with several local residents which explored the area's unique connection with baseball.
To learn more, please select an interview from the information provided below.


Dick Bezanson Interview

Researcher:
Patterson, Kelsey; Guerra, Wendy

Abstract:
This oral history interview with Dick Bezanson details his childhood and adolescent experiences with Eau Claire, Wisconsin baseball combined with specific descriptions of his father's involvement with the Eau Claire Bears, spring training stories, discussion of Bill Brutin and Hank Aaron, the beginnings of the Eau Claire Baseball and Memorabilia Committee, and much more

Scott Biederman Interview

Researcher:
Pelant, Nick  

Abstract:
Scott Biederman managed the Eau Claire Bear semi-professional baseball team for many years and won several state WBA state titles. In this interview, Mr. Biederman discusses baseball in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, from Little League to upper lever baseball, as well as his time with the Bears organization.

Mark Faanes Interview

Researcher:
Bystedt, Sam; Moore, Charity Respondent Faanes, Mark

Abstract:
Mark Faanes discusses his involvement in baseball in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, from watching his dad play in the local adult leagues to his own experience as coach and manager of the Eau Claire American Legion Team.

Lou Kassera Interview

Researcher:
Helt, Victoria

Abstract:
Lou Kassera has previously been a member of the Eau Claire Baseball History Committee. He is best known as being an announcer for the Eau Claire Braves and Eau Claire Bears games. He has also served on the Eau Claire Cavaliers board of directors. In his interview on March 27, 2012, Mr. Kassera talked about a multitude of topics that include the Eau Claire Braves, Joe Torre, Bob Uecker, the Eau Claire Cavaliers, the Eau Claire Little League, the Eau Claire Baseball History Committee, and other players and managers that he worked with.

Phil Fieber Interview

Researcher:
Rindo, Lindsey; Fick, Dustin

Abstract:
Phil Fieber is the head of Eau Claire Parks and Recreation. He was the radio voice of the Eau Claire Braves for five years, from 1955-1960. He was instrumental in procuring the Hank Aaron statue for Carson Park. Mr. Fieber discusses the impact of baseball on the Eau Claire community and has worked with Carson Park and local little league teams.

Dr. Jeff Jones Interview

Researcher:
Theiste, Todd; Clark, Benjamin

Abstract:
Dr. Jeff Jones played college baseball with the Eau Claire Blugolds varsity baseball team and was the original Founder/Owner of the Eau Claire Express Baseball Team. Dr. Jones of Eau Claire, Wisconsin discussed his early experiences with baseball, including the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugold baseball team, his time on the team, and his thoughts on the activities to bring about the return. He also discussed his son's Little League team and the activities of his business during this time with baseball. The founding of the Eau Claire Express, tje area's reception and involvement, bringing in players, changes to Carson Park, the transition to new ownership is all discussed.

Arthur Roach Interview

Researcher:
Borowski, Katie; Ferries, Craig

Abstract:
Arthur Roach has worked at the ballpark and is on the Eau Claire Baseball History Committee. From this experience, he was able to be amongst the ball players while working. This interview starts off discussing what Eau Claire, Wisconsin was like in the 1940s and 1950s. Mr. Roach worked at Carson Park in the concession stand starting in 1948 at the age of 14. He had many stories to tell about working in the concession stand and interacting with police officers in town. Mr. Roach talked about the scooter that the Eau Claire Bears had. He also told many stories about the players coming up to the concession stand to hang out. He told one story about Hank Aaron when he was playing in Milwaukee.

Neil Hanson Interview

Researcher
Borowski, Katie; Ferris, Craig

Abstract:
The interview with Neil Hanson discusses what his summer was like growing up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and what memories he had surrounding the Bears/Braves. Mr. Hanson mentions a few players who played in Eau Claire: Hank Aaron, Lou Brock, Pete Marciano, and Joe Torre. He answered questions about what Eau Claire was like on game days, did many people go to the games, etc. Mr. Hanson mentions the Saints playing in Minnesota. There was a discussion about Walter's beer and near beer. He mentioned Ham Olive, who lived and worked in Eau Claire and was a popular umpire. He also mentioned the Uniroyal Company and the Presto Company and how they sponsored Little League teams.

Howard White Interview

Researcher:
Gasper, Johanna; Ritter, Michelle

Abstract:
Howard White has a wealth of information from watching his grandfather Herman D. White, Eau Claire's "Mr. Baseball". The interview with Mr. White took place on March 12, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. The questions that were covered were: When you think of Eau Claire baseball, what memories come to mind? Were any other members of your family involved in baseball as much as your grandfather? How were they involved? Did your grandfather ever tell any interesting stories of famous players that played for the Eau Claire Bears? And what were some of the best stories he ever told you? Did your grandfather ever mention any controversies on the signing of black players to the Eau Claire Bears? Do you know how your grandfather reacted to the folding of the Northern League? Some of the responses that Mr. White had included were the conditions of travel during the prime years of the Northern League. He had spoken about how the Eau Claire team had traveled in hearses that were remodeled for the baseball team to use to travel throughout the North. Those travels had included as well constant repair of the vehicles, especially changing flat tires due to the travel on poorly graveled roads that were common during that time. Another aspect that Mr. White had focused on was of how baseball has always been an essential aspect of Eau Claire. This is because he strongly believes that baseball has always been a pasttime that families could enjoy together, from being part of the team to watching a baseball game underneath the lights at Carson Park Stadium. At this point, he does talk about some of the feelings he does have about the University not having a baseball team.

Jerry Poling Interview

Researcher:
Herold, Kelly; Sturz, Christopher; Kintner, Robin

Abstract:
Jerry Poling is the author of the book, A Summer Up North, and has been involved with much research and work on baseball in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Mr. Poling discusses what prompted him to write his book, the love of baseball in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and the surrounding area, and his desire to learn more about Hank Aaron's time in Eau Claire. A comparison between baseball in Eau Claire and baseball nationwide was made involving the progress of baseball in Eau Claire from the 1860s to the 1950s and to the present Northern League team. Mr. Poling, a news-wire editor and a columnist for the Eau Claire Leader Telegram, commented on media coverage of baseball and how the media shaped baseball or vice-versa and how the baseball-media relationship compares to media in other sports. Mr. Poling discussed how he assembled his book, what he learned after the book was published that could have been included, such as his attempt to determine if Ann Landers attended any of Hank Aaron's games. Mr. Poling discusses the Eau Claire Express and other teams of that level. Mr. Poling mentions how his sources felt about how African-American players were viewed and treated in Eau Claire, how the newspaper covered high school baseball but not other youth baseball, and how media accommodations for Carson Park are limited and have changed a little over time. Mr. Poling's most memorable baseball game was during the Brewers' 1982 American League Championship Series. Mr. Poling reminisces about his first trip to a major league ballpark and comments on the present day Brewers team.
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