Jose Lima, former Major League pitcher who won 21 games in 1999, dies at 37By AP
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Jose Lima, former major league pitcher, dies at 37
LOS ANGELES — Jose Lima, the energetic All-Star right-hander who was a 21-game winner and dubbed his outings “Lima Time,” died Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers said. He was 37.
Lima, who won 13 games with the Dodgers in 2004, died of an apparent heart attack, according to the Aguilas Cibaenas, a winter ball team that Lima had played for in the Dominican Republic.
“Lima was an exceptional man. This is a great loss for Dominican baseball and the country,” team president Winston Llenas said.
Lima posted his best season in 1999 when he was selected to the All-Star game as a Houston Astro. He went 21-10 in 35 starts with a 3.58 ERA for the NL Central champions.
“It saddened me greatly to hear of Jose’s passing,” Astros owner Drayton McLane said. “He was truly a gifted person both on the field and off of it. He could dance, he could sing, but his best gift of all was that he was an extremely happy person. He just lit up our clubhouse with his personality, which was his greatest asset. Jose was not shortchanged in life in any way. He lived life to the fullest every day.”
Lima went 46-42 with the Astros between 1997-2001.
In 13 major league seasons, the native of the Dominican Republic was 89-102 with a 5.26 ERA. He hadn’t pitched in the majors since a four-game stint with the New York Mets in 2006.
“He was a man full of life, without apparent physical problems and with many plans and projects on the agenda,” his wife, Dorca Astacio, told ESPNdeportes.com.
On Friday night, he attended a game at Dodger Stadium, where he was introduced between innings and received an ovation from the crowd.
“Horrible news. It’s so sad,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “His energy was infectious. It’s a big loss. He was a showman and a hot dog, but he won games. He willed himself to do it. He always had a smile on his face.”
With the Dodgers in 2004, Lima had a record of 13-5 and a 4.07 ERA after making the club as a non-roster invitee following spring training.
In the National League division series, Lima pitched a five-hit shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals in front of a sellout crowd at Dodger Stadium. It was the Dodgers’ first postseason win since Game 5 of the 1988 World Series.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt called Lima’s electric personality “unforgettable.”
“He had the ability to light up a room and that’s exactly what he did every time I saw him,” the owner said in a statement.
McCourt said Lima further endeared himself to fans when he sang the National Anthem prior to a home game in 2004. He performed with his band at the team’s annual Viva Los Dodgers celebration.
The team said Lima had joined its Dodger Alumni Association within the past month and was preparing to open a youth baseball academy this summer in Los Angeles.
Former Dodgers teammate Guillermo Mota said Lima loved to spend time with fans.
“He would sign autographs all the time and ask the kids, ‘What time is it?’ They would answer ‘Lima Time!’ I can see it right now,” said Mota, now a San Francisco Giants reliever. “He had so much energy. I used to play catch with him and I’d be laughing on every throw.”
Lima also pitched for Detroit and Kansas City.
“This is a shock for us because Lima was a young man who seemed healthy and nobody imagined this,” said Tomas Jimenez, manager of the Aguilas Cibaenas.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Associated Press Writer Christopher Weber and AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.
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