Jose Lima, pitcher for the Dodgers in 2004, died Sunday, May 23 from a heart attack at the age of 37. Dodger owner Frank McCourt made the following statement today regarding the passing of his former player.
“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. The attached photo is from that game (photo credit: Jon SooHoo).
Lima pitched 13 seasons in the Major Leagues with Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles and the New York Mets. He won 21 games for the Astros in 1999 when he was a National League All-Star and finished fourth in Cy Young Award balloting.
Funeral arrangements are pending.