CINCINNATI — A number of Phillies players and staff members experienced a difficult range of emotions after Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Phils came bounding into the clubhouse with a feeling of triumph after a 7-1 win.
But the euphoria quickly dissipated into sadness once they checked their phones and learned of the news that an old friend, Chace Numata, had succumbed to injuries suffered in a skateboarding accident three days earlier in Erie, Pennsylvania.
“It hit me pretty hard,” catcher Andrew Knapp said Tuesday.
Knapp played with Numata, also a catcher, in the Phillies minor-league system.
Numata, a 27-year-old native of Hawaii, was selected by the Phillies in the 14th round of the 2010 draft and played seven seasons in the organization, making an impression on everyone who crossed his path.
“I’ve seen a lot of people say nice things about him and they’re all true,” said Scott Kingery, who played with Numata at Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading. “He was a guy when you met him, you had a friend for life.
“He was an unbelievable guy, the life of the party, the life of the team. He was always having fun, always happy no matter the situation.”
After his time in the Phillies system, Numata played in the Yankees organization. He was with the Detroit Tigers’ Double A club in Erie at the time of his death.
“He embodied that Hawaiian spirit, hang loose, take it how it is, life is good,” Rhys Hoskins said. “He was always upbeat and full of energy.
“It’s just shocking. He was always skateboarding. He loved it. I’d seen him plenty of times on his board.”
Kingery remembered that Numata always had his skateboard with him.
“In the clubhouse, on road trips,” Kingery said.
“Great guy,” Knapp added. “He always had his board with him. He liked to surf.”
Knapp recalled spending a lot of quality time with Numata in spring training 2014. Knapp was coming off Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and could not throw. Numata had a broken left hand and could not catch.
“We were connected at the hip that spring,” Knapp said. “I’d catch bullpens and he’d throw it back to the pitcher.”
“It’s just terrible,” he said. “My heart goes out to him and his family.”