Miesville's miracle manErik Olson watched from afar as the University of St. Thomas baseball team won the Division III national championship last spring. His Tommies. His title. His celebration. The unforgettable run came during a very forgettable time in Olson’s life.
By: Brett Boese, The Republican Eagle
Erik Olson watched from afar as the University of St. Thomas baseball team won the Division III national championship last spring.
His Tommies. His title. His celebration.
The unforgettable run came during a very forgettable time in Olson’s life. A blood clot in his brain, which led to a minor stroke, caused the four-year starter to miss the most important part of his senior season. All told, that empty feeling lasted roughly three months — but it felt like a lifetime to the self-described “gamer.”
Olson didn’t waste any time getting back on the mound. He joined Tommie pitching coach and Mudhens manager Chris Olean to bolster Miesville’s staff this summer. He has posted a spotless 5-0 record with a sub-3.00 ERA to lead the Mudhens to the 2009 state amateur baseball tournament, which begins Friday in Gaylord, Minn.
“I was just thrilled to be back on the mound,” Olson said. “Once I realized I was fine and healthy again, that was what I wanted to do most. … I like to think of myself as a gamer. I want the ball in my hands for the big games.”
The DePere, Wis., native won two of Miesville’s four playoff games, highlighted by Sunday’s four-hit, complete-game shutout of Hastings to secure the No. 1 seed in the Section 1B tournament. Still, medical concerns remain front and center.
Olson continues to take blood thinner to prevent future blood clots. He also wears a helmet while in the field, similar to what John Olerud used to wear at first base. Despite clearance to return to action, the dangers remain very real for the aspiring Spanish teacher.
“If he took a line drive off his thigh or something, we’d probably have to take him out and get him to a hospital to make sure there’s no internal bleeding,” Olean said.
For now, the Mudhens are content to ride the wave of momentum Olson helped create. Miesville has won 11 straight games and lost just one since July 1 en route to a 39-8 season mark. It will face Marshall (25-10) in the first round game as it looks to advance to the final weekend for the third straight season.
The pitching staff remains Miesville’s strength, with Olean, Olson and University of Minnesota product Luke Rasmussen leading the way. The bats are led by 2007 state tournament MVP Matt Vanderbosch, though he sat out Sunday’s game with a sore hamstring.
A pulled hammy pales in comparison to the road Olson has taken. In addition to the stroke, he has pitched this summer knowing doctors found a small hole in his heart. He will require surgery to correct that “sometime in the future,” but no timetable is currently set for that procedure. It’s not considered life-threatening.
Though baseball will receive all of Olson’s focus in the coming weeks, he’s fully aware of how close he came to losing the game he’s been playing since he was a child.
“I’d say I’m unlucky, but to be back and how I am after the stroke, I’m actually pretty lucky,” Olson said.