Easton Oliverson’s fans have put on their rally caps.
Late Sunday night, the 12-year-old fell from the top bunk of a bed in a Pennsylvania dormitory, where he and his teammates from Santa Clara were preparing to play in the Little League World Series. Oliverson fractured his skull, resulting in an epidural hematoma — a life-threatening condition characterized by a collection of blood between the skull and the membrane that covers a person’s brain. He was rushed to a Pennsylvania hospital and underwent emergency surgery.
In the days since, Oliverson’s condition has improved. As of Thursday afternoon, he is out of the ICU, communicating more frequently with family, and was able to eat and drink by himself, per an update on his condition via an Instagram page run by his family.
And the support from far and wide has grown and grown.
“It’s really hard. There’s not a lot we can do,” said Luke Ashton, one of Oliverson’s teammates on the Roadrunners, his other baseball team back in Santa Clara. “All we can do is just have faith that he’ll get better. We just have to keep praying and knowing that he’s going to just pull through and hope he’ll get better soon and come back to us soon.”
A Little League spokesperson told The Salt Lake Tribune that bunk beds in the dorms at Williamsport have all been removed.
“Since 1992, Little League has used institutional-style bunk beds to offer the most space for the players to enjoy their time in the dorms,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “While these beds do not have guard rails, Little League is unaware of any serious injuries ever occurring during that period of time. Out of an abundance of caution, Little League has made the decision to remove all bunks from within the dorms and have each bed frame individually on the floor.”
The support for Oliverson and his family has been sweeping and constant. Los Angeles Dodgers player Mookie Betts — the boy’s favorite baseball player — recorded a video in support of him and sent it to the family. Oliverson was shown the video and began to cry.
Similarly, Kansas City Royals catcher MJ Melendez wrote “#PrayForEaston” on athletic tape he used to wrap his thumb.
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall and some of his teammates also voiced their support.
Several fundraisers and crowdfunding ventures have popped up since Oliverson’s arrival at the hospital. His family started a dedicated Venmo account, @MiraclesForTank. Fans can also buy hats and other apparel, some of which say “#TeamEaston” to help support his family.
On Thursday, from 6-10 p.m., five Handle’s Ice Cream locations throughout Utah will be donating a percentage of sales to Oliverson’s family. They are the St. George, Woods Cross, Layton, Sandy and Fort Union stores.
Those who know Oliverson and his family best describe the 12-year-old as always having a smile on his face. They say he’s considerate of others at a level uncharacteristic of his age.
On the baseball field, Oliverson is driven and competitive, all the while exuding his great joy and love for the game. Santa Clara Roadrunners coach Tyler Smith said his fondest memories of the 12-year-old are when he’s on the mound pitching in tough situations.
Smith recalled a championship game in a local tournament where Oliverson’s number was called to pitch against a particularly talented team. He asked Oliverson, who mainly plays left field, if he was up for it.
“He just looked at me, [and with] no hesitation at all, just flashes one of those big smiles and says, ‘No problem, I got this,’” Smith said. “And he just smiled all the way out there to the field. And I think that’s how he confronted everything with life.”
The Snow Canyon Allstars — the first team from Utah to ever reach the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. — are scheduled to play their first game of the tournament Friday at 1 p.m. on ESPN.
Ashton remarked on what it was like to watch his friend play games on national television.
“You feel like you know a celebrity,” he said.
One of Ashton’s favorite times playing with Oliverson is when the latter hit his first-ever home run.
“You could just see the excitement all over his face,” Ashton said. “All of us were super excited. And he was just jumping up and down and we were just super happy for him because it was his first one. It was a big moment and we were just really glad it was with us.”
Snow Canyon will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between the teams from the Southeast and New England regions. The Allstars will have try making history without their “Tank,” which is Oliverson’s nickname. The Roadrunners will all try getting together to watch “East the Beast” — the boy’s other nickname — on TV.
Near and far, Oliverson is on the minds of many, all rooting for him to get back to the field as soon as possible.