Jose Lima lived over the top on and off the baseball field. The free-spirited pitcher could deliver a song as well as a fastball, leaving a trail of fun and laughter known as “Lima Time” wherever he went.
The All-Star right-hander who spent 13 years in the major leagues died Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced. He was 37.
Lima, who pitched the Dodgers to their first playoff win in 16 years in 2004, was in full cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived at his Pasadena home early Sunday morning, police said in a statement. He was pronounced dead at Huntington Memorial Hospital.
The specific cause of death has not been determined, and Los Angeles County coroner’s officials will perform an autopsy, the statement said. Pasadena police detectives also are investigating.
“Lima was an exceptional man,” said Winston Llenas, president of Aguilas Cibaenas, a winter ball team that Lima had played for in the Dominican Republic. “This is a great loss for Dominican baseball and the country.”
Lima posted his best season with the Houston Astros in 1999 when he was selected to the All-Star game. He went 21-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 35 starts for the N.L. Central champions.
“It saddened me greatly to hear of Jose’s passing,” Astros owner Drayton McLane said. “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 the majority of his career in Houston, compiling a 46-42 record from 1997-2001.
Lima revived his career several times, bouncing between the independent league and the minors. The Dominican pitcher was 89-102 with a 5.26 ERA in 348 games in the majors.
On Friday night, Lima attended a game at Dodger Stadium, where he was introduced between innings and received an ovation from the crowd.
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!’ ” said Mota, now a San Francisco Giants reliever.