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It Will Always Be ‘Lima Time’
“Lima Time” as he called it, had its’ run in Houston from 1997-2001. He came to Houston, Texas as a quiet, but vibrant storm with his antics on and off the field as a member of the Houston Astros.
“Lima Time” had runs in Los Angeles, Detroit, Kansas City, and with the New York Mets. In Houston , Jose Lima will be remembered for his effort to be part of a community that cherishes its’ heroes in most cases.
He will not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but he will always be on the lips of baseball fans in the Space City.
Lima pitched for 13 seasons in the major leagues. he compiled a record of only 89-102 with an ERA of 5.26. His last stop in the majors was as a Met in 2006. He was 0-4 in the four games he pitched.
Lima got his start in the majors working himself up thru the Detroit Tiger organization. He came up on April 20, 1994. He pitched 95 games in a Tiger uniform.
He had 17 wins in two stays with Detroit. He was traded to Houston in 1997
The native of the Dominican Republic came to Houston with little fanfare but would capture the hearts of fans with the smile and attitude he possessed.
In 1999, he had Houston in the palm of a hand. He won a career high 21 games and a trip to the All-Star game. He loved pitching in the historic and spacious Astrodome.
When the team moved to Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, he didn’t the new home of the team from the start. It was a hitters park in his opinion. He never adjusted to it and was apparently dealt away after many failures at home and on the road. During his All-Star season he was 21-10 in 35 starts with a 3.58 ERA. The Astros won the NL Central championship that season
“He was a tremendous teammate and a great competitor,” Astro great and future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio said of Lima. “This is a big loss for the Astros family. Everyone will remember Jose for his antics on the mound.”
Tal Smith, president of baseball operations for the Astros, recalled the happy go-lucky Lima who thrilled fans. “He was certainly one of the most entertaining personalities to put on an Astro uniform,” Smith shared.
“For two years he was one of the most successful pitchers in franchise history and you know the type of pitchers we’ve had over the years. He won 37 games and pitched a total of 479 innings in those two seasons.”
“He pitched and live life with a great flair and enthusiasm.”
Astro owner Drayton McLane will never forget how proud Lima was of his chance to play in Houston. Lima was an ambassador for the team as he was for all the teams he played with.
“He just lit up our clubhouse,”McLane remembered. “He lit up the 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.He could dance, he could sing, but his best gift of all was he was an extremely happy person who attempted to make others happy.”
During his stint in Houston, Lima made himself available for just about anyone organization or individual who desired his presence. He attended baseball clinics, spoke at schools, signed autographs and had a comment for all reporters with a microphone, camera, pen or paper.
The only time this reporter witnessed Lima with negative thoughts were during his first time in Minute Maid Park. He couldn’t believe how small it was down the right and left field lines compared to the Astrodome.
He was shocked it wasn’t built pitcher friendly and he never adjusted to pitching in it. “What is this?,”he asked himself.
“Lima Time” has come and gone but those of us who lived it will always have a place for it in how hearts.
Jose Lima put countless smiles on our faces that will never be wiped away.