No one, it seems, was more popular in the Erie SeaWolves’ clubhouse than catcher Chace Numata.
“If you took a poll of the guys — who is your favorite teammate? — it would be Chace Numata, 25-0,” Brian Harper, hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers’ Class AA affiliate, told the Detroit Free Press. “If you took a poll of the staff, it would be 8-0, Chace Numata.”
Numata’s death Monday, three days after Erie police found the 27-year-old unresponsive and bleeding from his head after a skateboarding accident, was a devastating blow to the SeaWolves. Numerous teammates took to social media to express their shock and recall fond memories.
“The first time I met Chace was this Spring Training,” SeaWolves right-hander Logan Shore wrote on Twitter. “I was sitting alone in the cafeteria in Tigertown on my second or third day. I was new so I didn’t really know anyone. Chace was also new to the Tigers organization. He sat down in front of me with the biggest smile on his face and said, ‘Hi, I’m Numi, do you mind if I sit here? You look lonely.’ This is the epitome of what Chace Numata was and stood for. He always made sure everyone felt welcome and loved. …
“I know you are looking down on all of us with a smile and dancing in Heaven. We didn’t just lose a friend or teammate. We lost a brother. I love you man.”
Shore has started an online fundraiser to help Numata’s family with medical bills and travel expenses.
Tom Reisenweber, who covered the team for the Erie Times-News, said fans have been sending him photos of Numata, and many of them show him signing autographs for children.
“He was always the last one to the clubhouse because he spent so much time with fans after games,” Reisenweber wrote.
“I can’t explain how tough today has been,” SeaWolves right-hander Alex Faedo wrote on Instagram. “Numi not only were you the best teammate but the most selfless, positive, and down to earth person I have ever met. Thank you for being you.”
Erie police were called to the first block of East Fourth Street at about 2:15 a.m. Friday and found Numata on the ground, according to the Times-News. Surveillance-camera footage reviewed by police shows Numata falling off a motorized skateboard. No other vehicles were involved in the accident, and Numata was taken to the hospital where he died Monday morning.
His SeaWolves teammates were informed of his death after their game in Akron on Monday afternoon.
“This is a really tough day for the organization and the Numata family,” SeaWolves President Greg Coleman said, per Reisenweber. “The players found out right after the game. 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.”
A native of Pearl City, Hawaii, Numata was a 14th-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2010 draft and joined the Tigers organization this season, splitting time between Erie and the franchise’s Class AAA affiliate in Toledo.
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