Remembering Jose Lima, Entertainer And Recording Artist

Jose Lima gave Astros fans another reason to be sad this year when the colorful, erratic, but always entertaining righthander died Sunday of an apparent heart attack in Southern California. Despite Lima's winning 21 games and making the NL All-Star team as an Astro in 1999, owner Drayton McLane seems to be more impressed with some of the pitcher's other talents.

"He could dance, he could sing, but his best gift of all was that he was an extremely happy person," McLane told the Associated Press. "He just lit up our clubhouse with his personality, which was his greatest asset."

True, Lima was a journeyman who never made it back to the majors after a four-game stint with the New York Mets in 2006, and others are memorializing the Dominican Republic native in musical terms. "Judging by the reaction around baseball, Lima struck a strong chord," the Seattle Times' Larry Stone wrote this morning.

Lima never even pitched for the Mariners, but Stone went on to quote a 1999 column he wrote after shadowing the flamboyant and friendly pitcher for a week or two:

"You need to walk into the Astros clubhouse before a game to watch him prepare. Last week in San Francisco, for instance, you would have glimpsed a man in the aforementioned lavender outfit high-stepping his way around the clubhouse, line-dance style, to the tune of a Randy Travis country song, punctuating his efforts with an occasional 'Yee haw!'

"Most pitchers disdain talking to anyone on the day they pitch, preferring to stare intently into their locker. You can't shut Lima up. His usual M.O. is to blare the music of La Fuga, the Dominican meringue group that he produces, and dance to their CD entitled El Mambo de Lima. He does the same thing after his victories, which means a lot of boogieing in the Astros clubhouse.

"'There's one song he always sings along with," Houston Manager [and noted music fan] Larry Dierker said. 'I kind of like it. I think it gets the whole team jacked up.'"

Sports Illustrated's Kostya Kennedy also commented on Lima's recording career in that magical year of 1999:

"Lima prepares by standing half-clad on equipment trunks, shimmying, performing mock stripteases and singing robustly along with his favorite merengue CD. It's no surprise that he knows all the words - he wrote them. The CD is titled Jose Lima en Vivo (Jose Lima Live)."

Unfortunately, Rocks Off was not able to track down any clips from El Mambo de Lima or Jose Lima en Vivo online. We struck out on Amazon.com. If anyone out there has a copy of either CD, or of his "Lima Time" theme song, we would love for you to send us an MP3 or two.

But we did find the above YouTube video, recorded barely more than a year ago (shudder). Apparently the effervescent Lima, dead at 37 years old, loved Skynyrd as much as he loved to mambo. ("I was struck that he knew every word to three Sinatra songs," Astros Senior Director of Social Media Alyson Footer posted on Twitter Sunday.) Please share any musical memories of Lima in Houston in the comments.

Jose Lima, renaissance man. Descanse en paz.

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