Baseball lost a colorful and talented character today as Jose Lima died of a heart attack at the age of 37. “Lima time” took over Houston for a couple of years, marked by a scintillating 1999, which saw Lima win 21 games and go to the All-Star game for the Astros. Lima who made his home in Los Angeles, brought his fine, control pitching and joyful exuberance to the Dodgers in 2004, drawing top billing in Hollywood for one magical late summer run. As part of that division champion winning team, his solid season was ultimately capped by a five-hit complete game shutout of the Cardinals in the Nation League Divisional Series.
Lima’s celebrations on the mound were the stuff of legend and his persona was larger than life. He lit up clubhouses and made friends wherever he played, from his start with the Tigers in 1994 to stints in various independent leagues from his Native Dominican Republic to California’s Golden Baseball League. after last playing in the Majors as a Met in 2006. He loved to chat with reporters, fans or anyone else within ear shot, making him a fan favorite where ever he pitched and irritating hitters who didn’t care for his swagger. A talented Merengue singer from the Santiago region of The Dominican Republic, who would just as soon talk music as talk pitching, Lima even got to sing the national anthem at Dodger Stadium before a game in 2004. Lima was a man with a big heart, who lived life to the fullest and never lost sight of the fact that he was incredibly lucky to be able to make a great living playing a game.
According to ESPNDeportes, Frank McCourt, the owner of the Dodgers, released a statement saying that Lima had rejoined the organization in the last month as a member of their alumni organization. “He was committed to making appearances in the community on behalf of the team, including an upcoming musical performance at a Viva Los Dodgers event this summer,” McCourt said.
I never got a chance to see Lima pitch in person, but I enjoyed watching him pitch on TV plenty of times. He was the sort of pitcher that you weren’t quite sure how he got hitter out, but seemed to will his way out of trouble all the time. Seriously irritating to see him shut your team down, but always incredibly entertaining, I once named a fantasy baseball team, “Stop… Lima Time!”
Enjoy some videos of Jose off the mound. Here’s one of him hanging out in LAX, singing “Sweet Home Alabama” (to which he admittedly doesn’t know the lyrics) with his teammate, shot last year, while he was a member of the Long Beach Armada.
Lima Time back home in D.R.
We’ll miss you Jose.
“Everyone will remember Jose for his antics on the mound,” said former Astro Craig Biggio, a teammate of Lima’s, according to the team’s website. “But he was a tremendous teammate and a great competitor. It’s a big loss for the Astros baseball family.”