CHINO - More than 3,000 friends, fans and family members paid their final tribute Saturday to the "larger than life" Frank Pastore, a former Cincinnati Reds pitcher turned Christian radio personality.
During the memorial service at Calvary Chapel Chino Valley, a longtime family friend recalled Pastore telling him that motorcycle riding was a "calculated risk, but never reckless."
Pastore, an Upland resident, was critically injured Nov. 19 when a car and his motorcycle collided on the 210 Freeway as he was on his way home after his daily radio show on KKLA-FM (99.
Just a short time before, on that show, Pastore had said "I could be spread across the 210, but that's not me, that's my body parts."
He died Dec. 17. He was 55.
"I never have met anyone like Frank Pastore," said Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. "He's just a larger than life kind of guy. He was a big guy, we all know that. He was an great athlete, an apologist, a theologian and just an all-around fun guy to be with.
"Although he was a bit larger than life, he was a very tender and sensitive guy."
Laurie said Pastore opened many of his crusades, at Angel and Dodger stadiums, with a prayer.
Pastore hosted "The Frank Pastore Show" on KKLA, a Christian radio station.
Pastore was recruited by the Cincinnati Reds right out of Damien High School in La Verne. He pitched for the Reds from 1979 to 1985 and for the Minnesota Twins in 1986.
David Hopley, one of the memorial service attendees, recalls playing Pony League baseball with Pastore in Upland.
"Boy, he could really hit," said Hopley, 55, of Mt. Baldy. And as a youthful pitcher, Pastore "was always inventing things."
Hopley recalled one of those inventions, a "butterfly pitch," which was a "knuckle-curveball kind of thing.
Hopley said Pastore was "brilliant in school" and turned down a full scholarship to Stanford to sign with the Reds.
After his baseball career, Pastore graduated from Biola University in 1994 with an M.A. in philosophy and from Claremont Graduate School in 2003.
Radio talk show host Dennis Prager called Pastore "a first-class intellect."
"Frank is in a better place now, but that doesn't mean we are," Prager said at the memorial service. "America needs Frank Pastore."
Prager said he never saw Pastore in a bad mood. "He was the proverbial perfect clock. He always brought joy in wherever he went."
Longtime family friend Joe Roggerman said Pastore was like a motorcycle: "Big and loud, but smooth and simple."
Pastore once told his wife Gina that when he gets to heaven, the person he wanted to meet most after Jesus was Abraham Lincoln, Roggerman said.
"Can you imagine poor Abraham?" Roggerman said, and the memorial service audience broke into laughter.
Among the things Pastore liked most, Roggerman said, were ripe peaches, his wife's lasagne, spicy Mexican food, In-N-Out food and "getting up at midnight to sneak ice cream out of the carton."
He didn't like to get dressed up "at all," nor did he like "small talk," being late or those who were, quitters or people who had "a casual relationship with the truth," Roggerman said.
Walt Russell, professor of New Testament and Bible exposition at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola, said Pastore "was like a giant shade tree for Christians, a safe, cool place where we could be nurtured."
Memorial service attendee Tina Burns of Chino said that Pastore, years later, recalled an on-the-air conversation he had with her son Caleb, who was 8 or 9 when he placed the call.
"There was nobody like him," Burns said of Pastore.
In addition to his wife Gina, Pastore is survived by his son Frank Jr., daughter Christina and one grandson.
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