Pitcher Jose Lima, who pitched for 13 seasons in the major leagues with the Tigers, Astros, Royals, Dodgers, and Mets, died today after suffering a massive heart attack at his home in Los Angeles. He was 37.
"Jose was complaining while sleeping and I just thought he was having a nightmare," Lima’s wife, Dorca Astacio told ESPNdeportes.com. "I called the paramedics, but they couldn't help him."
Lima, known for his colorful persona on the field, was being mourned across baseball today.
"It saddened me greatly to hear of Jose's passing,” said Astros Chairman and CEO Drayton McLane in a statement. “He had an outstanding career with the Astros and won 21 games in 1999 on one of our greatest teams ever. 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 spent five of his 13 Major League seasons with the Astros (1997-2001), during which he was 46-42. His best season came in 1999, when he was 21-10 with a 3.58 ERA, helping the Astros to their third straight Central Division title. Lima, who was an All-Star in 1999 and one of seven 20-game winners in franchise history.
"Jose was certainly one of the most entertaining personalities to ever don an Astros uniform," said Astros President of Baseball Operations Tal Smith. "And, for two years, he was one of the most successful pitchers in franchise history, winning 37 games and pitching a total of 479 innings in those two seasons. He pitched and lived life with great flair and enthusiasm. 'Lima Time' will always be remembered by those for whom he performed."
"Everyone will remember Jose for his antics on the mound," said former Astro Craig Biggio, who was a teammate of Lima. "But he was a tremendous teammate and a great competitor. It's a big loss for the Astros baseball family."
Dodger owner Frank McCourt made the following statement today regarding the passing of former Dodger pitcher Jose Lima.
"We are shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic loss of Jose Lima. Though he was taken from us way too soon, he truly lived his life to the fullest and his personality was simply unforgettable. He had the ability to light up a room and that's exactly what he did every time I saw him. His memorable contributions to the Dodgers in 2004 and throughout baseball will always be remembered. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to his family during this extremely difficult time."
Though he played just one season for the Dodgers, Lima etched his name in team lore when he made the club as a non-roster invitee following Spring Training of 2004 and went 13-5 during the regular season, leading the Dodgers to their first National League West Division Championship since 1995.
The Dominican-born right-hander further endeared himself to fans when he sang the National Anthem prior to a home game at Dodger Stadium in 2004 and performed with his band at the Dodgers' annual Viva Los Dodgers celebration.
In the National League Division Series that year, Lima pitched a complete game, five-hit shutout in Game 3 at Dodger Stadium, giving the team its first postseason victory since 1988.
Lima had rejoined the team within the past month as a member of the Dodger Alumni Association and was preparing to open a youth baseball academy this summer in Los Angeles to help teach the game he loved to youngsters. 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.
He attended a game at Dodger Stadium on Friday night and received a rousing ovation from the crowd when he was introduced between innings.
Funeral arrangements for Lima are pending.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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