Eric Hollister was introduced to Oakdale in March 1980, when his father was dying from a massive heart attack. Eric's older brother, Brad, had gone to see their ailing father, but Eric arrived just minutes after his father passed away. Brad was angry because his father had always loved Eric more. After his arrival, Eric began taking classes at Oakdale University as an undeclared major. He also moonlighted as a construction worker and dated the teenaged Betsy Stewart. Almost immediately, Betsy got competition in another recent transplant to Oakdale, the 17-year old, Cricket Montgomery. Cricket's mother, Nurse Lyla Montgomery was having a difficult time controlling her youngest daughter and they had many battles. Cricket was not happy to see Betsy and Eric date because she herself found Eric very fine looking. A matter of fact, Betsy and Cricket's friendship would come to a crashing end, when Cricket threatened Betsy over Eric at Memorial Hospital. Betsy began spending more and more time with Eric. Betsy wore heavy makeup and put on sophisticated airs for this "older" man, but soon learned that Eric simply wanted her to be herself. To her stepmother’s relief, Betsy told Eric that she was not ready to "go all the way" with him.
Meanwhile, Eric decided that he wanted to be a doctor and began to volunteer at Memorial. Unfortunately neither Brad nor Eric could figure out if they could pay for Eric to go to medical school. Soon, an answer would present itself in the form of the love of Eric's life. But first, Eric had to contend with Cricket Montgomery. Cricket was still rebelling against her mom, Lyla, and on Halloween evening 1980 while Lyla wasn't home , Cricket invited Eric to their home and told Eric she was more than willing to sleep with him. She started to flirt with him and seduce him and it nearly worked. However, Eric ultimately declined since he worried that there was a possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Unfortunately, Eric’s rejection was overheard by Lyla, who returned home early, and she read Cricket the riot act, which made Cricket furious -- but not at Lyla, but at Eric. Cricket vowed revenge on Eric for turning her down!
1981 saw the arrival of the woman Eric would end up marrying. This young woman's name was Hayley Wilson and her father was an archaeological professor involved in a top-secret project in Egypt. Hayley presented the rich James Stenbeck, with a gift from her father. In the box were precious stones from the tomb that her father was excavating. When Hayley fell ill, Eric rushed her to Memorial, where Dr. John Dixon was the only doctor on call. When James returned to Oakdale with the sad news that Professor Wilson had died in a cave-in, John was sympathetic and took Hayley under his wing. Eric and Hayley started dating as well.
Meanwhile, Jeff Ward's younger half-brother, Cody Sullivan, arrived in Oakdale to pay Jeff back an old debt. When Cricket met the dashing Cody, she wasted no time in quitting her job for the more glamorous position of production assistant on Cody's film while Eric started a job building sets for Cody's epic movie. Both Cricket and Nick Andropolous's stepdaughter, Sofia Korackas were anxious to win the lead role in the film. Though she didn’t get the part, Cricket did have an affair with Cody. Soon, Cricket became pregnant. When Cody left town without knowing of her pregnancy, Cricket needed to find a man to be her unborn child's father, her eyes drifted back towards Eric to fit the bill!
While all of this was going on Barbara Stenbeck’s brother, Dr. Rick Ryan, had returned to town and worked with a fellow doctor named, Len Howell to manufacture PCP in the lab at Memorial. When the lab was discovered, Rick himself planted PCP on an unsuspecting Larry Travis.
Meanwhile, Eric was hired by Barbara and Lisa Colman to build their new store Fashions, Ltd, which was funded by Barbara’s husband, James. When Eric was nearly done with the finishing touches on Fashions, Larry dropped some of the PCP when Barbara was trying to impress Larry and Connie Wilson with the new shop. Some of the PCP accidentally ended up in the tea that Barbara was making. After Connie and Larry departed, Barbara offered Eric some of the tea (not knowing it was laced with PCP) for a job well done. After Barbara left, Eric passed out and would have died, if not for the fortunate arrival of another new resident in Oakdale, Karen Haines. Karen immediately called for help and Eric got to Memorial's ER in the nick of time where the angel dust was gotten out of his system. Eric though did end up in a coma for several weeks being cared for by Dr. John Dixon, Dr. Jeff Ward and nurse want to be, Karen Haines.
Afterwards, Hayley, through her Aunt Connie's goading, decided to call it quits with Eric since Connie convinced Hayley, temporarily, that Eric must be a drug addict. When Eric came out of his coma, Hayley was angry at him and told him they were through. At this point, Cricket decided to put her plan of revenge into action and convinced Eric that while he was on the PCP he had had sex with her and so Cricket was pregnant with Eric's child. Although Eric had no memory of this, he assumed that perhaps there might be some truth to Cricket's statements. The only person who stood by Eric through all of this was his nurse, Karen Haines. Eric found comfort in Karen’s willing arms and they temporarily became lovers and moved in together.
Later, Hayley had a change of heart where Eric was concerned, when she began to realize that Connie's animosity towards Eric was more about greed than anything else. Eric, as a construction worker, didn't meet with Connie's high standards. Hayley also pieced together that if Hayley married Eric, Connie would lose control of the estate of Hayley's father. When Karen started to realize that Eric's heart belonged to Hayley, she released him from any obligations and told him their love affair was over.
A short time later, Hayley forgave Eric for Cricket’s pregnancy. In late October 1981, Eric proposed marriage to Hayley and she accepted. Eric and Hayley were married on Thanksgiving Day 1981 and left town for Seattle, Washington immediately afterwards, so that Eric could attend medical school there.
Eric was called back to Oakdale, on February 10, 1982, when Cricket went into labor. Jeff helped deliver Cricket's baby boy, Billy. Cricket still insisted that Billy was Eric's son and Eric reluctantly agreed he'd help with the financial cost of helping with raising Billy. When Jeff and Karen (who were an item at this time) overheard this, they were livid! Both knew Cricket was lying through her teeth. Despite Jeff being Billy's uncle and having some fondness for Cricket (even if Cricket was delusional), Jeff and Karen finally told Eric the truth -- he couldn't possibly have fathered Billy. Jeff told Eric all about the affair between Cody and Cricket and Karen told Eric that the day she him, he was passed out on the sofa at Fashions and fully dressed at that! Eric confronted Cricket and Cricket was forced to admit the truth. However, Eric grown fond of the idea of having a son, and before leaving Oakdale for good, promised Cricket that he’d keep in touch and provide Billy with any guidance that he might need. Eric kept his promise and kept in touch in touch for at least the first two years of Billy's life by sending him birthday presents.