When I hit "Save" yesterday morning on my post paying tribute to the late Jose Lima, I figured that would be the end. It was, coincidentally, about the same time we were finishing up what evolved into a tribute, a Jose Lima Memorial show on 1560 The Game on John and Lance's morning show. The show ended, and around 10:00 a.m. I sent Rich Connelly the e-mail to tell him my post was ready to go (about four hours earlier than usual).
And while I expected a higher than usual number of comments from believers in "Lima Time" and Astros fans in general, I frankly expected to be writing about something else by Tuesday -- the Astros on the verge of replicating 2005's 15-30 start, Rockets fans doing everything but sending hookers to Chris Bosh's house, or the 24 series finale and the lights being turned out on the worst human resources department of all-time (seriously, CTU -- mix in a background check).
I should have known better. It's always "Lima Time."
If ever the passing of an athlete deserved an encore tribute, it's Jose Lima, the guy who followed a loss in 2000 with a quasi-concert in the center field restaurant. Today, we go out with one final number -- sharing thoughts, links, and stories about "Lima Time" that came in from emails, tweets, and comments after yesterday's radio show and tribute post here.
Back to sports tomorrow, but today, one more time with feeling...."Lima Time." Believe it. Enjoy.
PODCASTS FROM LIMA TRIBUTE SHOW on 1560 with John Granato & Lance Zierlein
Jose Lima's "250 plus tax" story from rookie ball as told to John and Lance in 1998
Classic story from a fan who met Lima at Wild West Saloon back in the day
Story of Lima playing in a beer league softball game...in season...in his ASTRO'S jersey!
Other blog posts that I read yesterday paying tribute to Lima included:
-- Lance Zierlein, Chron.com and 1560 The Game and a friend of Lima during Jose's time in Houston
-- Alyson Footer, Astros Senior Director of Social Media and part of Media Relations staff when Lima was with the team
-- Joe Posnanski, Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated and columnist for the Kansas City Star when Lima was there in 2003 and 2005
-- C.J. Nitkowski, former teammate of Jose Lima at multiple stops
My friend Andrew Eller e-mailed me and said "EVERYBODY has a Lima story, it's unbelievable, the smiles and joy in every story about how much they loved him. He may be the only athlete some of these people can name." Here is just a small sampling of the Lima stories we got yesterday sent to the show...
"We were at the ballpark and Jose Lima was signing autographs in
right field. I can remember that he used to sit there for an hour or so
before the game and sign autographs forever. On this particular day,
we were at the park celebrating my son's 7th birthday. We got in line
to get an autograph from Lima. When we got to him and he was signing
something for my son, I mentioned that it was my son's birthday. He
instantly picked up my son, put him on his knee, and sang Happy
Birthday to him in front of the crowd. It was great. I have
it on video and it makes a great memory. Jose Lima always had time for
the fans in Houston. He was very personable." -- Sarah Ballard
"I got the news of Lima's passing by checking face book at the pool and when I read it I said oh wow I can't believe it. Jen asked me what's wrong and when I told her the news she knew immediately who he was. She said the Lima Time guy right. Jen doesn't even watch sports and she knew who he was. I was shocked. I mean, he's not Bagwell or Biggio but she knew Lima Time. I think that says a lot about him." -- Rene Charles
"The last I saw of Lima, Clear Lake golf course when it was a year or so from closing. I was there to hit some balls at the driving range. Lima shows up to get a cart to play and he has CORN ROWS! On his head... When I saw him .. all I could say was THAT was how Lima Time rolls...I feel a true sadness from his passing. The world is a little less colorful without him." -- Tracy Shank
"I heard a guy in KC yesterday say he was at a game, Lima was signing autographs for the fans pregame, and security came over to tell Lima they needed to clear the field for some pregame stuff. The guy said Lima climbed over the rail and sat in the stands and kept signing. Security tried to tell him not to be in there and Lima supposedly said, 'Hey, they pay my salary. They pay your salary.' And signed for a few more minutes." -- Blaise Miller
"I was about 12 or 13 in '98 and my little brother and I were in
the Dome and wanted to get a Lima autograph..my little brother screams
for him to come back to where we were standing and Lima just says, "I
can't go back; it's against my religion." He eventually comes back to
where we were standing; not only gives us autographs, but sits and chats
with us for about 10 minutes or so. Dude was a great guy and will be
forever missed. I only wish I had a drinking story with him." --
"My favorite Jose Lima memory was after he got traded to Detroit. I went to a Rockets game with a buddy, we sat on the fifth row... five rows in front of me, with an entourage of gold chains, sat Jose Lima. I was pumped beyond belief. I waited until there was a lull in action and yelled, "Lime time, baby! Beleeebe it!" And he glared back at me with his classic Lima Time pursed lips... to me, it was like having Fonzie give you a thumbs up or having Elvis shake his wiener at you." -- Andy P in Orange County
"We were sitting out in Ruggles before the game one afternoon and
Lima was out in center field shagging flies in batting practice. We all
started chanting 'Lima, Lima, Lima' and he turned around and started
doing a little salsa dance and leading the Lima chant. He came over to
Ruggles and started signing autographs and ordered a drink. I asked him
what was he drinking and he said 'it's just lemonade baby' and
winked at me and started laughing. Of course it was a
margarita. I'll never forget how great he was with all the fans that
day." -- James Chambers
"Lima wasn't pitching, but would sit there and talk with the fans..he entertained my sister (who was probably around 10 at the time) and her friend during a game one time .At the end, he gave her friend a hat, and so my sister wouldn't be left out he went down in the dugout and came out and gave her a baseball.." -- Jarred Morris
"I went to a Tigers game with my in-laws in 2002. Lima wasn't pitching, but he was in the dugout. My wife and I started singing the Casa Ole song for Jose, and very quickly he came out of the dugout, danced, and blew us a kiss. A bunch of the kids in the stands came down, and we all sang the Casa Ole song. Lima threw balls up to all the kids - then told my wife and I to knock it off." -- Keith Eargle
"I remember once I was standing in line for [Lima's] autograph and as he was genuinely taking pictures with everyone, there was a baby crying behind me and he went to the baby and grabbed it from the mother and started singing to it and the baby just started laughing. It was a neat moment to see an athlete just have so much fun with life the way he did. Today I have read many pieces on him and somebody wrote, 'he might not be a hall of fame pitcher, but he is a hall of fame person'. RIP Lima Time" -- Baxter Smith
"Guys I am one of the biggest fans of Jose Lima...during BP, Lima was walking in the outfield shagging balls signing them and throwing them to the kids. My son, about 6 or 7 at the time, got Lima's attention and he threw him a ball. An adult reached in front of my boy and snagged the ball away from him. Before I could even say anything to the guy, Lima (in that fantastic Lima voice) said "Hey you asshole give the kid the damn ball I threw it to him" I will forever be a Lima fan. RIP LIMA TIME" -- Jeremy Clifton
R.I.P. JOSE LIMA 1972-2010
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show", and follow him on Twittter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.