Chace Numata, a catcher in the Detroit Tigers organization, died Monday from injuries he sustained in a skateboarding accident early Friday morning. He was 27 years old.
Numata, who split time this season between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo, was riding his electric skateboard home in downtown Erie on Aug. 30 just after 2 a.m. when the skateboard stopped suddenly and Numata fell forward. “It appears he just fell on the skateboard and landed headfirst on the ground,” said Erie police Sgt. David Stucke, who viewed surveillance video of the accident. “It appears he was unconscious as soon as he fell. He was knocked out.”
A motorist saw Numata unconscious in the road and called 911. Police arrived to find Numata bleeding from the head, and he was taken to the hospital where he died Monday morning.
Erie SeaWolves team president Greg Coleman said Numata’s teammates found out after Monday afternoon’s game that Numata had passed away.
“It was the family’s wishes that the players had a chance to go out and compete and not worry about this news. It was a really somber locker room. Some guys were visibly [shaken], some in tears, some were trying to figure it out. There were a lot of blank stares, and there is no playbook for this type of thing. It’s a sad day and we miss Chace a lot.”
Numata, a 14th-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2010 out of Pearl City High School in Hawaii, also spent time in the Yankees organization before signing a minor league deal with the Tigers this winter. Numata’s teammates and colleagues describe him as just an irrepressibly likable guy.
“Numi is the heart and soul of this team,” said SeaWolves outfielder Cam Gibson, who roomed with Numata this season. He has more heart and more soul than anybody in this entire organization.”
“That smile could light up a room,” said Coleman. “I kept praying to see that smile one more time. The world is a darker place without him.”
“If you took a poll of the guys, who is your favorite teammate, it would be Chase Numata, 25-0,” said Brian Harper, the SeaWolves’ hitting coach. “If you took a poll of the staff, it would be 8-0 Chase Numata.”
“He was just an awesome guy to be around,” said SeaWolves reliever John Schreiber. “He brought a lot of energy to the ballpark, he was nice to everybody. He’s somebody I will never forget.”
Schreiber said he had already donated to the GoFundMe set up to assist the Numata family with medical and travel bills. Numata’s family had flown to Erie from Hawaii after his accident, and, along with the Tigers and SeaWolves, put out their own statement after Numata’s death.
It is with deep sorrow that the Numata Ohana announces that Chace Kekoa Kenji Numata, our beloved son, brother, and a friend to all, has passed away on September 2nd, 2019. Chace was a 27 year old, switch-hitting catcher from Pearl City, Hawaii that was blessed with the opportunity to professionally play the sport he loved for the Phillies, Yankees, and Tigers organizations for over ten seasons. 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