Friday, November 7, 2014

Card #128: Frank Pastore

Who Can It Be Now?
Frank Enrico Pastore was born on August 21, 1957, in Alhambra, California. He was a baseball star at Damien High School in La Verne, California, where he was also the senior-class president. 

A highly intelligent man, Pastore had earned an academic scholarship to Stanford University. But, when the Reds drafted him in the second round of the 1975 June Draft with the 46th pick overall, Pastore went for the immediate money and signed with the Reds.

The Reds assigned Pastore to Rookie Level Billings in the Pioneer League in 1975, and the still-17-year-old Pastore pitched well there -- 5-7, 2.56 ERA, 88 innings, 27 BB, 69 K. The Reds displayed patience with Pastore, however, which likely reflected the fact that their major-league rotation and bullpen were in generally good shape and the fact that Pastore was young even for his draft class. 

So, in 1976 and part of 1977, Pastore pitched in the Florida State League. By his 19th birthday in 1977, though, he had moved up to Double-A Trois-Rivieres. There was no need to rush him to upper levels, however, with the Reds system having a fair amount of talent in the major leagues, so Pastore started 1978 back in Double-A in Nashville. He earned a brief call-up to Indianapolis in 1978 (where he was hammered for 24 hits in 12 innings) as well.

In 1979, however, Pastore had a strong spring training. He made the Reds straight away out of spring training, and made his major league debut on Opening Day in a 3-inning relief performance in a losing effort against the Giants. 

His initial trip to the majors was marred by a humbling appearance on May 25, 1979, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tom Seaver was rocked for 7 Earned Runs in his first two innings of work, which meant that Sparky Anderson opened up the bullpen. Pastore came in to pitch in the fourth inning with the Reds down 7-2.  And the floodgates opened.  In the fourth inning, Pastore allowed homers to Steve Garvey, Gary Thomasson, and Joe Ferguson. After working a perfect fifth, Pastore allowed homers in the sixth to Derrell Thomas, and Davey Lopes and a run-scoring single to opposing pitcher Rick Sutcliffe. When it was over, Pastore had allowed 10 earned runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in 2-1/3 innings.  He pitched once more before being demoted to Triple-A.

To his credit, Pastore responded well to the demotion and made it back to the major leagues by the end of July. After his recall, he pitched 67-2/3 innings and finished with a 5-7 record and a 2.93 ERA, including a complete game shutout of the Atlanta Braves in his final start of the season. Those results boded well for his future as a starter in the major leagues.

Pastore's best season in the major leagues was 1980, and it was his only season with a winning record. Wins and losses may be overrated, but a 3.16 FIP (3.27 ERA) confirms that his 13-7 record was probably deserved based on his pitching. 

He continued starting for the Reds through 1983. Other than the strike-shortened 1981 season, he threw between 184 and 189 innings in 1980, 1982, and 1983. Yet, as happens for many young pitchers, he did not emerge from this time injury-free. In 1982, he was hampered by tendon issues in the middle finger on his pitching hand. 

Then, in 1984 in a freak accident, Pastore took a line drive off his right arm. While that did not cause him to be put on the disabled list immediately, it certainly affected him for the rest of the season. Before that injury, he had a 4.27 ERA in 65-1/3 innings. After the injury and after a stint on the DL in July, he was rocked for a 10.91 ERA in 33 innings. He pitched sparingly for the Reds in 1985 as well.

In 1986, it all came crashing in on Pastore. He came to spring training with the Reds to fight for a roster spot. Instead, he looked like he was pitching batting practice, racking up a 14.04 ERA. That led the Reds to designate Pastore for assignment. He rejected the assignment, and, after passing through waivers, signed 20 days later with the Minnesota Twins. After a season in which Pastore threw 49-1/3 innings in 33 appearances for the Twins (walking 24, striking out 18), the Twins decided to let Pastore become a free agent. 

For the 1987 season, Pastore signed with the Texas Rangers. He did not make the major-league club, and went to Oklahoma City. After 4 disastrous starts for the 89ers (22-1/3 innings, 37 hits, 24 runs (21 Earned), 7 HR allowed), the Rangers cut him loose and Pastore's playing career ended.

Mustache Check: Pastore is clean-shaven on this card.

Orange You Smart
Despite turning down Stanford for baseball, Pastore eventually obtained his bachelor's degree in business from National University in Irvine, California. He had planned to go to law school, but chose instead to earn his masters in philosophy of religion from Biola University. He later took classes at the Claremont Graduate School for a masters in political philosophy and government.

Goody Two Shoes
After taking the Steve Sax line drive off his arm, Pastore decided to attend a Bible study barbecue at the home of the Red's Chapel Leader, Tom Hume. Also in attendance were Duane Walker, Tom Foley, and Dann Bilardello. At this barbecue, Pastore fired off his arguments against the existence of God. 

In reply, the players and their leader, Wendel Deyo (who was the national director of Athletes in Action), gave Pastore a few books to read about Christianity including C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. Pastore read the books, and converted to Christianity from previously atheistic stance.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Frank Pastore made no impact on my memory whatsoever in the 1980s. That probably is not surprising since he only spent one season in the American League.

Pastore eventually became a very popular Christian radio show host in Southern California on KLLA-FM in Glendale. A number of articles about Pastore refer to him as being one of the "nation's most popular Christian-radio hosts." He even won a National Religious Broadcasters award for the show in 2011.

On his show on November 19, 2012, Pastore was discussing a TV show on The Science Channel hosted by Morgan Freeman called Through the Wormhole. On the particular episode Pastore was discussing, the idea of life after death was explored. In the context of that discussion, Pastore said the following:
Look, you guys know I ride a motorcycle, right? So, at any moment, especially with the idiot people who cross the diamond lane into my late, all right, without any blinkers -- not that I'm angry about it -- at any minute, I could be spread all over the 210. But that's my body parts, and that key distinction undergirds the entire Judeo-Christian worldview and also your pursuit of reality.
Three hours later, Pastore was driving his motorcycle home on the 210. He was struck by a 56-year-old Glendora woman driving a Hyundai Sonata and thrown from his motorcycle. He suffered critical head injuries. He would never recover. The woman responsible for the crash was not ticketed or cited -- it was purely an accident.

A month later, he died at the age of 55 from those injuries. His funeral was attended by 3000 people in Upland.

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