Former BA editor, and current Pirates scout, Chris Kline found a familiar face in a strange place during his trip to Puerto Rico for the Caribbean Series in 2007.
This was Chris’ first trip to the island as he covered the event for us, and (as an English-only speaker) he found the language barrier tough to overcome at times. But it didn’t keep Chris from missing out on the main attraction that proved to be Jose Lima, and the two ended up developing a bond over the course of the tournament.
Chris recalls his experience covering Lima below. Included are some of his reports from the Series, highlighting the unique character that baseball has now lost following the passing of Lima at the age of 37 over the weekend.
Jose Lima was THE story of the 2007 Caribbean Series . . . Well, at least for me he was.
After that initial press conference ended, he made a beeline straight for the only gringo in the room, and bear-hugged me so hard he picked me up off the ground. You’d think we’d known each other for 20 years, but that was the first time I’d ever met him. ‘¨’¨
He was totally convinced he knew me forever, and at the stadium the next day while doing interviews with the Latin media—wearing mirrored, white Dolce-Gabana shades with his glove on his head over his cap—he saw me, stopped the interview mid-sentence, and said, “There’s my friend, there’s my friend!,” pointing and drawing unnecessary attention.
‘¨’¨Over the course of the Series, we struck up this oddball kind of friendship and I heard from him several times over the last three years; always talking a mile a minute and always off the phone in less than three minutes—but always brimming with energy, always laughing. In those six awesome days in Puerto Rico, as in all 37 years of his life, Lima was the guy having the most fun.
That fun was obvious in Chris’ reports. Lima was the story in the Dominican’s series-opening win against Venezuela, in which he pitched brilliantly while stirring up the opposing fans.
And he didn’t disappoint, both in terms of results and his always colorful demeanor. Lima allowed a pair of runs on eight hits over five innings, but certainly added to the drama by seemingly constantly pitching out of jams, then jumping off the mound pumping his fist and pointing to the Dominican flag-waving crowd on his way back to the dugout.
The ultimate showman, Lima made faces at the Venezuelan fans on the third base side—at one point sticking out his tongue in their direction just to make them taunt him even more. There just aren’t enough Jose Limas in the world today.
Lima later started what he finished by pitching brilliantly but taking the loss in the Series finale after the Dominican team had already clinched the championship.
. . . This was for the Dominican fans more than anything else. And Lima had them borderlining pure frenzy all night long.
“We know who the best team is,” Lima said. “I’m not going to let anyone beat me down. I said I’d save my big show for this game—that was my goal.
“I could have stayed in the game. I could have pitched however more innings it took to win. But the bottom line is Dominicana is the champion, so my goal is complete.”