Pastore: This One Belongs To The Lord

by Kevin Burton

On opening day 1979 the great Tom Seaver of the Cincinnati Reds didn’t have it. His early exit led to the major league debut of Frank Pastore.

Pastore was born on this day in 1957.  He had an early exit from life, at age 55, and he sort of predicted it on the radio. We’ll get back to that.

   Pastore pitched three scoreless innings that day, giving up just one hit. He was a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable 11-5 Cincinnati loss to San Francisco in which the Reds committed five errors.

   The right hander emerged as a reliable starting pitcher for the Reds at a time when they badly needed pitching. He was with the Reds from 1979 to 1985. Then played for Minnesota and in the Texas Rangers minor league system. Pastore’s best statistical season came in 1980 with the Reds. He was 13 – 7 with an ERA of 3.27 in 27 appearances.

Pastore’s worst break on a baseball field, in 1984, turned out to be his best break in life. It was a game-changer in more ways than one.

   “Pastore was hit on the elbow with a batted ball on June 4, 1984,” according to Wikipedia. “That injury caused him to appear in only 41 games in the 1984 and 1985 seasons combined.”

   During recovery from that injury, Pastore became a born-again Christian. Those sorts of things don’t make the sports headlines though. So I lost track of him after he was released by the Reds after spring training of 1986.

   “After baseball, Pastore went back to school, graduating with a degree in business administration from National University in 1989,” according to Wikipedia. “He then spent the next two years with the national leadership of Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.”
   “He then attended the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, graduating summa cum laude with an MA in philosophy of religion and ethics in 1994,” according to Wikipedia. “In 2003, Pastore completed his second master’s degree, in political philosophy and American government, from Claremont Graduate School.”

   “On January 5, 2004, Pastore became the host of The Frank Pastore Show on KKLA-FM in Los Angeles, which became one of the largest Christian talk shows in the United States,” according to Wikipedia.

   “In 2011, Pastore authored Shattered: Struck Down, But Not Destroyed, a book recounting how he became a born-again Christian during recovery from his 1984 pitching arm injury.

   “On November 19, 2012, during his radio show while discussing how his faith affects his view of death, Pastore said: ‘…you guys know I ride a motorcycle, don’t you? So, at any moment, especially with the idiot people who cross the diamond lane into my lane, all right, without any blinkers — not that I’m angry about it, but at any minute I could be spread out all over the 210 (Freeway).’”

   “That same day, he was critically injured on the Foothill 210 Freeway in Duarte, California, when a woman from Glendora, California, driving a Hyundai Sonata, collided with his Honda VTX 1800, throwing him off the motorcycle. He was hospitalized in critical condition with serious head injuries,” according to Wikipedia.

   Less than a month later, on December 17, 2012, Pastore died from pneumonia and other complications of his injuries.

   “Pastore once held the record for the fastest time to finish eating the famous 72-ounce steak dinner, “The Texas King”, at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Pastore’s record of 9 minutes 30 seconds stood for 21 years, until being broken by Joey Chestnut in 2008,” according to Wikipedia.

   I included that last fact because I think it’s cool. I’m sure he did too at the time.

   But take a look back at his life and accomplishments. The true highlights don’t have anything to do with eating fast or for pitching in the playoffs at age 21 with the Big Red Machine.

   When an elite athlete retires from sports, he or she often fades entirely from the limelight. Pastore though had a much greater stage after baseball.

   Pastore was a giant and beloved in Christian ministry, described by friends as “a big shade tree” that people would come to for shelter.  He learned that success in life apart from Christ only led to emptiness and he shared that message wherever he went.    “You always think it’s the next car, the next relationship, the next is that’s going to bring you happiness,” Pastore said in the message One Pitch From Humility aired on the Focus on the Family radio program. “There was a reason why our founders said it was the pursuit of happiness, because you never really arrive until you find Jesus.”

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