Sunday, May 23, 2010

R.I.P., Lima Time

Jose Lima might have been the most colorful pitcher to take the mound for Houston. At the top of his game, his arm wasn't the only thing that drew fans. His personality was so much fun, it was hard not to cheer him on. He left Houston and, frankly, I lost interest in him. But after learning about his death, I thought I'd share two personal stories about him.

My first was in 1999, the Astros last season at the Astrodome. We had tickets to the game and it just happened to be my Dad's birthday (only he couldn't go, so I'm not sure if he thought his real gift was us leaving town). Before the game, we walked around and I decided to get Dad a gift - a Jose Lima CD. Back then, you could stand around one exit and get photos of the players and a few would stop and sign autographs. So, after the game, we waited in that parking area in what must have been 150 degree heat. Finally, Lima Time rolled out and I handed the CD to him and said it was a gift for my Dad. He signed it, "Happy Birthday, Dad - Lima Time." We drove home, I gave it to my Dad. He said (not a direct quote here, just going off my poor memory), "What the hell is this?" My brother and I were excited - I mean, IT'S LIMA TIME! Dad was not impressed. I don't even know if he still has the CD.

My second time was the following year. The Astros had moved into their new ballpark. I was interviewing players and saw him. He was definitely not shy. In fact, he was so comfortable, the entire time I interviewed him, he had his hands in his pants adjusting his cup. That, my friends, is the most bizarre interview I have ever conducted. I did not shake his hands. I also failed at getting him to sing a bit for me (he encouraged me to by the CD and when I told him I picked one up the year before, he thanked me). Glad my photographer kept that shot tight as I think I would have had to explain what was happening or cover the interview with video!

I have photos of both events, but that was long before the digital camera rage and I can't find them in my house. They still exist. I think. When I find them, I'll share them here.

I always thought Lima Time was fun. I wish he had been able to continue pitching well. I think this video will show a little bit of her personality and the magic that was Lima Time. I hope he singing and dancing, maybe even pitching, where ever he is now.
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