Friday, May 28, 2010
Lima's wake held in New York
NEW YORK -- David Ortiz lingered near the casket, took one final look at his friend's face, and slowly walked away.
Jose Lima, the exuberant pitcher who could always draw a crowd with his singing and dancing, was mourned Friday by fellow All-Stars, family and friends. He died Sunday at age 37 after paramedics found him in cardiac arrest at his home in Pasadena, Calif.
"He was one of the happiest men in the world," New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. "It's very sad, to lose him so young."
Yankees coach Tony Pena also was among the hundreds at the wake. It was held at a funeral home on a tree-lined residential street in Queens, about a mile from where Lima threw his last big league pitch, for the Mets in 2006.
Many of the mourners wore T-shirts stamped with "Lima Time" -- he liked to shout out that phrase, to ramp up the excitement when he was pitching -- and a picture of him frolicking on the beach.
Ortiz came down from Boston to honor his former Dominican winter league teammate. The star slugger stayed an hour, then headed back to Fenway Park and hit an RBI single in the first inning against Kansas City.
Ortiz said he would remember Lima "for what he was, a great guy."
The wake was originally set for Thursday, but paperwork in California pushed it back by a day. Johan Santana and Jose Reyes of the Mets, Miguel Tejada of the Orioles and Placido Polanco of the Phillies were among the many players who had planned to attend before the postponement affected their travel schedules.
"I never played with him, but I loved to be around him," Santana said early Friday, after the Mets beat Philadelphia 3-0. "He was so charismatic. Always happy, always smiling, always wanting you to smile."
The wake drew people from all walks. The Counsul General of the Dominican Republic in New York, Rafael Evans, came in a suit and tie. Merengue singer Shino sported oversized sunglasses, a bright blue shirt and a modern fedora.
Lima's 13-year-old son, Jose Jr., wore a new Dodgers hat. He embraced Lima's brother, Lezcano, as they tried to find the right words to describe him.
"There was not one day of the year that my brother was mad," Lezcano said, stifling tears.
"Happy," Jose Jr. said.
A funeral was planned for Saturday in the Dominican at Estadio Cibao, the ballpark in Santiago where he pitched for the famed Aguilas. An Aguilas hat was in the casket and a red rose was placed on Lima's chest.
Lima spent 13 seasons in the majors with Houston, the Dodgers, Detroit, Kansas City and the Mets, going 89-102 overall. He was an All-Star in 1999 when he went 21-10 for the Astros.
Cano's career started a year before Lima's ended.
"He used to play against my dad," Cano said. "Every time he'd see my dad, he'd ask about me. He just made everyone feel better."