Chace Numata, a switch-hitting catcher in the Detroit Tigers organization, died on September 2 from injuries suffered in a skateboarding accident. Numata, who was 27 and a member of the Erie SeaWolves, was hospitalized in Erie, Pa., after a fall early on August 29. Video surveillance footage showed that Numata’s skateboard suddenly stopped as if it had hit something on the sidewalk, causing him to fall. A passerby called police, who found him unconscious and bleeding.
Numata’s family released a statement that read, in part: “Everyone who was around Chace knew there was never a stranger in the room when he was there. It didn’t matter if you were a professional athlete or young child, he made sure to make everyone feel comfortable and welcomed. His smile was contagious, unrelenting, and never ending, while his personality could light up any environment he would be in. Our family would like to say Mahalo nui loa to everyone who prayed for, thought of, and acknowledged Chace during this difficult time. We heard you and we appreciate you all from the bottom of our hearts! #FORNUMI.”
Chace Numata was born on August 14, 1992, in Pearl City, Hawaii. According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, he was a 2010 graduate of Pearl City High School and an All-State utility player for the Chargers team that won the 2010 Oahu Interscholastic Association baseball championship.
Numata was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 14th Round of the 2010 June Amateur Draft. Despite being used primarily as a backup catcher, he nonetheless came close to winning the Florida State League batting title in 2016, finishing with a .308 average. In his 10 years in the minor leagues, he played for the Phillies and Yankees organizations and was in his first year with the Tigers’ farm system. He spent most of his time this season with the SeaWolves, battingg .239 in 71 games with 4 home runs and 26 RBIs. He also appeared in AAA for the first time in his career, playing 6 games for the Toledo Mud Hens and hitting an even .300.
For his professional career, which included part of a season with the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League, Numata had a slash line of .252/.314/.335, with 521 hits in 620 games. After reading comments from teammates, he sounded like he was pretty much an ideal teammate.
“He had an engaging personality that quickly established him as a leader on and off the field, and his presence will be forever remembered in our organization and beyond,” the Tigers said in a statement.
“If you took a poll of the guys — who is your favorite teammate — it would be Chace Numata, 25-0,” said SeaWolves hitting coach Brian Harper. “If you took a poll of the staff, it would be 8-0.”
SeaWolves teammate Logan Shore has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for medical bills and the expenses involved in Numata’s family flying to Pennsylvania during his hospitalization. “We love you Numi. You made an impact on every person you met,” he wrote.