When a good friend dies, especially under tragic circumstances, the mind tends to wander with a degree of wistfulness. We think back to moments now frozen in time, to memorable conversations, funny stories or meals together.
In the midst of all that joy at the time we didn’t think of sorrow, we didn’t think of the brevity of it all, the temporal nature of life.
Why would we? Yet, it was Solomon who once wrote that even in laughter the heart may ache – and all joy ends in grief (Proverbs 14:13).
Yesterday’s death of Christian broadcaster and former Major League Baseball pitcher Frank Pastore comes as a blow. He was my friend, and I not only miss him already, but I miss knowing that he’s out there “in the arena” spreading the Good News of Jesus over the airwaves at KKLA in Southern California and beyond. That his booming voice has been silenced at this moment in history doesn’t make much sense to me – but I somehow believe it must make sense to God.
Frank was just 55 years of age and, as many of you know, succumbed to injuries related to a motorcycle accident he suffered last month.
I had the pleasure of riding with Frank over the years. Every journey was adventure. He was an enthusiast who loved life. He also had a beautifully playful spirit. When we stopped for gas one afternoon an elderly woman remarked to him that she had never ridden on a motorcycle. He offered to take her for a ride. She agreed. There I stood at the gas pump with her 80-year-old husband as Frank and his new friend took off down the road. “I sure hope he comes back!” the white-haired man quipped.
I’m reminded of another day when I bumped into Frank on a tiny commuter airplane. He squeezed into the seat next to me and said, “Oh, great! An empty seat. I’m so glad to have an opportunity to talk with you!” He would have been much more comfortable sitting somewhere else. Two big guys crammed side by side is a sorry sight – but Frank didn’t care. He was more interested in conversation with a brother than comfort.
During Frank’s inaugural season with the Cincinnati Reds he was thrilled to be paired with the future Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench. But during one of his first games he kept shaking off Bench’s signals, believing that he had a better idea of what kinds of pitches he wanted to throw. Finally, Bench called timeout and jogged to the mound.
“Listen rookie,” the legendary catcher told him, “I call the pitches. You throw them.” He got the message.
From where I sit, Frank lived his life with a similar spirit of deference to his Lord and Savior. He didn’t complain about life. He didn’t shake off the signals God gave him throughout his years in ministry. Instead, he gladly and gratefully answered the Lord’s call on his life. He threw everything he had into his ministry and stayed in the game until Jesus called him home.
Our prayers are with his family who now mourn and, at the same time, thank the Lord for the gift of his presence and now his legacy.
Indeed, Frank Pastore was a Christian broadcaster, a former MLB pitcher, a husband, father, grandfather and a friend.
But he was so much more.
He was one of God’s good men – a mighty warrior who now sees the wonder of His Lord and Savior firsthand.