Carson Park baseball stadium and the Hank Aaron Plaza, featuring the Hank Aaron statue.
On May 4, 1937, the first game was played on the new Carson Park baseball diamond as the Eau Claire Bears hosted the Superior Blues in a Class D Northern League game. Wisconsin Governor Philip LaFollette attended along with the Municipal band. Mayor D.D. Lockerby threw out the first pitch, with Councilman Fred Stussy acting as the catcher. June 1, 1937 was the official dedication of the baseball diamond as the Bears hosted the Class AAA American Association Minneapolis Millers in an exhibition game. News reports had the fans hanging from the rafters of the 1,500 seat stadium with a total estimated crowd of 5,000. This was also the first game under the lights at the baseball diamond. The Bears’ attendance in Carson Park’s inaugural year topped 40,000.
The design of the stadium and diamond was essentially the same in 1937 as it is today except for the small, one-person rooftop press box from where radio announcer Hattalee Colstad broadcast. In recent years major renovations have been made within and outside the baseball stadium, but the basic layout has remained intact.
Teams that have played at Carson Park
The Carson Park diamond was host to professional baseball from 1937 to 1942 with the Eau Claire Bears, and 1946 to 1962 with the Eau Claire Braves, both playing in the old Northern League where many Major League players of the era got their start. Any local baseball fan, who is at least over the age of 40, can recite a long list of past baseball stars who graced the Carson Park baseball diamond. Future Milwaukee Braves who got their start with the Eau Claire franchise included Bill Bruton, Wes Covington, Andy Pafko, Joe Torre, and even Mr. Baseball-Bob Uecker.
In 1952, the Eau Claire Bears roster included a rookie shortstop from Alabama who led the Northern League in hitting. Nobody would have guessed 61 years ago that this youngster, by the name of Henry Aaron, would go on to break Babe Ruth’s career homerun mark and etch his name in history forever.
On August 17, 1994, Aaron returned to Eau Claire and Carson Park to celebrate the unveiling of a statue depicting him as the 18 year-old shortstop for the Eau Claire Bears. Over 5,000 fans jammed the Carson Park baseball stadium and surrounding areas to greet Hammerin’ Hank that day.