Frank Pastore pitched for the Cincinnati Reds 30 years ago when I followed baseball more closely than I do now. Johnny Bench was his catcher and Pete Rose was his teammate and later his manager.
In 1979 Pastore began his major league career with the Reds on Opening Day when he pitched in relief of starter Tom Seaver. At 21 he was the youngest player in the major leagues. Pastore pitched 1-hit ball over 3 scoreless innings (7,8,9), but the Giants won 11-5.
The next year Pastore was the starting pitcher for the Reds on Opening Day against the Braves. He pitched a 3-hit complete game shutout, winning 9-0. He went on to post a 13-7 record with a 3.27 ERA for 1980.
Pastore’s fastball made him a top pitcher and a respected member of the Reds. He stayed away from alcohol and drugs and was faithful to his wife. Because of similar lifestyles he was friends with the Christian players, although he made sport of them for their beliefs.
Pastore’s description of his philosophy at this time is:
“I would not have considered myself a ‘religious person.’ I was a ‘realist.’ I was a realist because I believed in only what was real and true, like science, history, psychology, chemistry and physics. I believed that some being called ‘god’ may have started the Big Bang; but I knew that evolution was a fact, that morality was culturally relative, and that environment and chemicals could account for all human behavior, because those were the things I had been taught in school. I did not believe that Jesus Christ was God, that He had been born of a virgin, that He had risen from the dead, that the Bible was inspired, that there was a literal heaven and a literal hell, or that there had ever been prophecies or miracles. Simply put, I just didn’t believe Christianity was true.”
Pastore began to lose confidence that baseball would ever give him the happiness he sought. He realized that although most of his teammates were rich, successful, and famous, few were genuinely happy. Pastore said, “The only players that seemed to be ‘together’ were the guys I regularly made fun of behind their backs, those religious fanatics who brought the Bible into the locker-room and along on road trips, those born-again Jesus-freaks who believed in people rising from the dead.”
Suddenly in June 1984 his career was cut short by a line drive off the bat of Dodger 2nd-baseman Steve Sax. It shattered his pitching elbow.
It’s fascinating that Pastore’s first response was to ask, “Why God? …Why!?” He had to remind himself that “no one was listening.” According to Scripture, there are no real atheists: “That which is known about God is evident within men; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks.” (Romans 1:19-21)
As Pastore entered the training room with his injury, Christian teammates gathered to pray. He thought, “The religious fanatics want to pray for me. Isn’t that just like uneducated people to turn to a mythical god in a crisis situation?”
Read the sequel Baseball Player Rejects Evolution to learn what happened.
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
Monday May 24, 2010 A.D.
That which is known about God is evident within men; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.