Baseball rallies around family of Chase Numata, who will continue to make a difference in death

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Chace Numata, who died Sept. 2 from injuries sustained in a skateboarding accident, had his organs donated to help others.

Judging by the overwhelming outpouring of condolences and memories in the past several days, Chace Numata made quite the impact in his short life.

And the Tigers' minor-league catcher continues to make an impact in death.

Numata was an organ donor, and his heart, liver, pancreas and both kidneys will be used to help save the lives of others.

In a heartfelt blog post on the website for Pittsburgh hospital UPMC, Numata's organ donation is chronicled. He was given what's called an "honor walk," being taken from his hospital rooom to the operating room for the harvesting of his organs. During the "honor walk," he was accompanied by his family members, as well as Erie SeaWolves president Greg Coleman, as his favorite song, "Give It Up" by KC and The Sunshine Band, played.

“Chace has always been such a caring and giving person who loved to help others and his final wish is to do exactly that,” Numata's family said in a statement.

“God blessed him with so many gifts during his lifetime, and now Chace has the ability to continue his legacy by saving lives with the gift of giving his organs to those in need.

"‘Chace Boy,’ we are so proud of you for all that you are, all that you have done and all that you are doing.”

Numata, a veteran baseball player who was finishing his first season in the Tigers system at Double-A Erie, died Sept. 2, two days after he was involved in a skateboarding accident.

Since his death, the baseball community has risen up to celebrate him — as an outgoing 27-year-old from Pearl City, Hawaii, he had a ton of friends in baseball, having played professionally since 2010, with the Phillies, Yankees and Tigers organizations.

There have been countless tributes, at ballparks — including at Yankee Stadium — as well as on social media. The SeaWolves scrawled "Numi," his nickname," on thier caps, as did several Tigers players who had been teammates with Numata. Meanwhile, all of baseball has sprung to action to raise money for the family. 

A GoFundMe account set up by one of Numata's Erie teammates originally had a goal of $10,000, but blew past that, and now stands at more than $50,000.

Also, the SeaWolves have been raising money on their own, auctioning off the team's game-worn jerseys as well as several other pieces of sports memorabilia donated by the likes of the Tigers, Pittsburgh Steelers and several other sports franchises and individuals. The auction has raised more than $10,000, and will continue on the LiveSource app as long as the team keeps receiving donations

The SeaWolves also received several private donations.

Meanwhile, video of his "honor walk" surfaced on Twitter on Tuesday, via the Center for Organ Recovery & Education, showing his father Nathan, wearing a Tigers shirt, placed a hat on Chace and kissed him goodbye.

“Chace was a great ambassador for the Erie SeaWolves,” Coleman said, according to the post at “He had a contagious smile and a fun-loving spirit that could instantly brighten your day. Chace had a positive impact on so many lives, so it was no surprise that he decided to help others by being an organ donor.

"While we’re saddened by the loss of our teammate and friend, we take great solace in knowing his legacy will live on in others.”

A funeral will be held for Numata in his native Hawaii.

He is survived by parents Nathan and Cher, sister Kanani and brother Chevas, as well as his girlfriend, Gabriella.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984