A sad day for the Detroit Tigers: Chace Numata, a catcher in his first season with the team's Double-A Erie affiliate, died Monday from injuries he suffered in a skateboarding accident Friday. Police say surveillance video showed the 27-year-old riding his skateboard through downtown Erie, Pa., around 2am on Aug. 30 when it apparently hit a rock and he fell forward, the Detroit Free Press reports. He was found unconscious after a passing motorist called police. "Chace was beloved by many from our Major League club through all levels of our player development system," the Tigers said in a statement Monday. "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. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, teammates, and coaches."
After he finished high school in Hawaii, Numata was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. He also played in the New York Yankees' system before signing with Detroit last November. Early this season, he was the backup for Detroit catcher Jake Rogers at Erie. "Chace helped me get here and his memory will always be with me," Rogers, who had "Numi" written on his hat, told the AP after the Tigers' 4-3 loss to Minnesota on Monday. Erie Seawolves hitting coach Brian Harper tells the Free Press that the normally rowdy dugout was very quiet over the weekend. "If you took a poll of the guys, who is your favorite teammate, it would be Chace Numata, 25-0," he says. "If you took a poll of the staff, it would be 8-0 Chace Numata." Says Numata's roommate, "He’s a bright light in everybody’s life. ... Regardless if I’m doing well or doing bad, he’s always there. Numi is the heart and soul of this team." (Read more Detroit Tigers stories.)