Baseball: Former Houston Astros pitcher José Lima dies suddenly at 37

Sunday, May 23, 2010

José Lima in 2004, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Image: Malingering.

José Lima, a former baseball pitcher for Major League Baseball's Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Kansas City Royals (all in the United States) died suddenly at his Los Angeles home this morning of a heart attack. He was 37 years old. His death was confirmed by the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and his family.

Lima, who had not experienced any prior health problems that led to the heart attack, was reportedly experiencing "nightmares" the evening before he died, according to his wife Dorca Astacio. These "nightmares" eventually led to Astacio calling local paramedics for help, but Lima was declared dead upon their arrival at the couple's home this morning.

Lima was born on September 30, 1972 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He began his major league career with the Detroit Tigers at age 22 during the 1994 season. He played with the Tigers for two more years until he was traded to the Houston Astros. Lima statistically played his best seasons with the Astros, including a 21-10 record in the 1999 season. While playing for Houston, fans coined the phrase (and chant) "Lima Time" when he was starting at pitcher.

Lima's stats declined after he was traded back to the Tigers in 2001. He played his remaining five seasons with the New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Lima finished his Major League career with 89 wins, 102 losses, and 980 strikeouts when he retired from the MLB in 2006. Lima continued to play baseball for teams in Korea and the Dominican Republic until 2009. He had also stated in recent interviews that he would come back to pitching in the MLB if offered.

"I'm in shock [...] He was a very happy man. A lot of people loved him. And he was a great pitcher, a competitor. I had so much fun when he threw. He enjoyed the game. I was a fan of his," said José Cruz, a former teammate of Lima's and a former first base coach for the Astros. "He was a good man; he was a good friend," added Cruz.