Little League® International remembers former Junior League Baseball World Series Champion Chace Numata from Hawaii’s Pearl City Little League. He was 27.
“It is a sad time for all who knew Chace, yet his memory lives on through those who knew him best: his family and friends,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “We at Little League International echo the sentiments shared by many by offering our deepest condolences and prayers to all those mourning this devastating loss.”
Chace was a member of the Pearl City Little League teams that represented the West Region in the 2006 and 2007 Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Michigan. In 2006, the Pearl City team reached the semifinal, losing to eventual World Series Champion, El Campo (Texas) Little League. The following year, the Pearl City team, featuring Chace, and his brother, Chevas, won the World Championship, 6-2, defeating Illam Central Little League, the Asia-Pacific Region champion from Makati, Philippines.
In response to the news of Chace’s death, the Numata family released this statement:
“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”
Chace was a member of the Detroit Tigers organization, playing for the Erie (Pa.) SeaWolves at the time of his death. The Tigers responded with this statement:
”The Detroit Tigers are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Chace Numata, who was a catcher for our Double A affiliate in Erie. Though this was his first year with our organization, Chace was beloved by many from our Major League club through all levels of our player development system. 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.”
SeaWolves owner Fernando Agguire added, “The Erie SeaWolves are heartbroken and deeply saddened by the passing of Chace Numata. Chace was a leader, an outstanding teammate, a friend to many, and his personality was positive and infectious. He made everyone he met feel welcome, and he had a very positive impact throughout the SeaWolves organization and the Erie community. We extend our sympathies to the Numata Ohana and have them in our thoughts and prayers. RIP Chace.”
Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 14th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft, Chace spent time playing professionally a few miles away from Little League International, as a member of the Phillies’ Single A Short Season team, the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters.
Chace played 10 seasons in the minor leagues for the Phillies, Yankees, and Tigers advancing as high as AAA where he played six games with the Toledo Mud Hens. Chace was playing with the Tigers’ Class AA affiliate, when he fell from his skateboard on the night of Aug. 30. On Sept. 2, he passed away as the result of his injuries.
Chace, born on Aug. 14, 1992, is survived by his parents, Nathan and Cher; and brothers, Chevas and Kanani.