Frank Pastore, a former Cincinnati Reds pitcher who ate the fabled 72-ounce steak dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in a record 9 1/2 minutes in 1987, died Monday from complications after suffering severe injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Pastore’s death was announced by KKLA radio, a Christian station in Glendale, Calif., that hosted “The Frank Pastore Show” for nearly nine years. Pastore suffered severe head injuries a when a car hit his motorcycle on Interstate 210 in Duarte, Calif., on Nov. 19.
Pastore pitched for seven seasons with the Reds from 1979 to 1985, then with the Minnesota Twins in 1986. He compiled a 48-58 record. He landed with minor-league Oklahoma City in 1987 before retiring. Pastore’s baseball career probably was shortened when a line drive broke his elbow during a game in 1984. But the experience led him to Christianity.
But inhaling the big steak dinner at the Amarillo, Texas, landmark seven times in less than an hour — including the one in record time — remained one of his biggest claims to fame. He wrote in a column about it for Townhall.com:
The first time I did it was in February 1976, on my way to my first Spring Training with the Cincinnati Reds, and I did it in 21 minutes. That fall, on my way home, I completed it in 19 minutes. The next spring, 17; on the way home, 15; the following spring, 13; then 11 on the way home in 1978.
My fastest time—and the world record for almost 21 years—was set in May 1987 in which I did it in 9½ minutes. I thought it would be my last time through town, since my career was coming to an end, and I was right. I haven’t been back to the most famous steak house in the world since then.
I’ve always been so proud of The Record. In many ways, I’m more known for The Steak than I am for my 8-year mediocre pitching career or my radio show in Los Angeles.
Pastore also recounted in the Big Texan’s self-published “Story of the Free 72-oz. Steak” book:
“Every year, when I went to and from camp, I stopped at the Big Texan. I ate the steak as fast as I could and used a full bottle of A-1 steak sauce. I always ordered cheesecake and coffee, afterwards. […]
“I was pitching for the minor leagues. The fans would come up to me after a game for my autograph. The first couple of times this happened, I was thrilled, but I quickly learned that my fame wasn’t from baseball, it was because of the 72 oz. steak!”
Competitive eater Joey “Jaws” Chestnut beat Pastore’s record in 2008 by gobbling the 72-ounce steak dinner in 8 minutes, 52 seconds. Remember, the dinner doesn’t include only the 4 1/2-pound steak. It also features a salad, dinner roll, baked potato, and a shrimp cocktail.
“You know, these professionals are taking all the fun out of gluttony,” Pastore quipped upon hearing the news.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has published an obituary. The article mentions that comments during Pastore’s final radio show were eerily prescient about his ultimately fatal crash.