I had the pleasure of watching Jose Lima pitch, sing, and heckle the crowd last season. Stay tuned for the details.
In Indy Indulgence (I.I.), Kevin Lager whispers sweet nothings in to the ears of Independent Baseball Fans. Sure, some people can get all the baseball they need from the rigid structure of “Bud” Selig’s heavily commercialized and painstakingly sanitised Major Leagues, but the most sinister of us also crave Indy Ball, where trades are weird, hecklers are louder than the PAs, the players exist in real life, and dammit – it just feels like home.
Jose Lima pitched for the Long Beach Armada and the Edmonton Capitals of the gloriously independent Golden Baseball League – both teams rivals of my hometown Calgary Vipers.
They are good rivalries, and they were made better thanks to Jose Lima.
Story #1: Lima Sings Happy Birthday
The picture at the top of this post is of the visitors dugout at the hallowed grounds of Foothills Stadium, home of the Calgary Vipers. Now picture Jose Lima standing half way between third base and the visitors dugout. Between the third and fourth inning, Vipers then-prez Peter Young handed Lima a microphone so he could sing happy birthday to a young gal. Lima was a terrific singer, and the crowd (normally hostile to Long Beach Armada players) went wild.
Story #2: Lima Out-Heckles a Heckler
I’ve long contended that one of the most unique aspects of Independent Baseball is that the players can clearly hear and identify every individual heckler. This was especially the case when Jose Lima was in town. I clearly remember a kid (probably in his 20s) in a purple shirt heckling each and every Armada player as they walked on deck to take a few practice swings. Lima must have had enough (or just wanted to stand up for his own players) and popped up from the visitors dugout to start heckling the kid in the purple shirt. It was hilarious – Lima was good-natured about the whole thing by mostly sticking his tongue out at the guy, making weird noises, and making fun of his very purple shirt. The heckler didn’t stand a chance.
Story #3: Pitchers Duel
On August 27, 2009, I went to the ballpark in anticipation of the ultimate pitcher’s duel: Jose “Lima Time” Lima for the Edmonton Capitals up against my all-time favourite baseball player “The Cobra Clutch” Joe Sergent of the Calgary Vipers. I even maintained a scorecard that day to preserve the magic in some form. It was a playoff preview, and a gorgeous night for baseball. Here’s the scorecard.
Bonus Story: A Fan’s Comments
Lima fans have been posting their favourite stories on my Vipers blog, but I had to share the best one here:
Last year at the home opener, my year and a half old grandson was playing with one of the brooms at the concessions after the game, when Lima comes out of the dressing room on his way to the bus and sees him and in his big booming voice say “Hey little man, you don’t be pushing a broom, you swing a bat” and gives him one of his bats which he signs, and then says “Here you swing this and makes lots of money so mommy and daddy don’t have to work!” He was a big presence of a man with a great heart!!
Jose Lima, we hardly knew ye.