I’ve covered golf, baseball, lacrosse, tennis and more in my sports editing assignments.
But my favorite is football — especially writing about the glory days of the Houston Oilers in the Astrodome.
Sports Editing: Football
As a contributing editor for the suite of Houston-based Lifestyles & Homes magazines, I had a great time interviewing one of the original Oilers — Dan Pastorini.
My family had just moved to Houston from Colorado in the ’70s, and hat a treat to attend the games. We’d load up and head to the Astrodome, and I’ll never forget the spirit of “Love Ya Blue.”
The anthem song, written by Lee Ofman, it made quite the impression on my preteen brain:
Look out football, here we come,
Houston Oilers, number one.
Who would’ve known that I’d grow up and into sports editing, and have the opportunity to learn much more about the Oiler’s star quarterback. Dan later became a NHRA Top Fuel dragster and the author of Taking Flak: My Life in the Fast Lane with a Foreword by legendary Coach Bum Phillips. Today he’s an entrepreneur and owner of Dan Pastorini’s Quality Foods.
But ask him about his greatest achievment, and he’ll tell you it’s being a father. So, what else does Dan have to say about his lifetime adventures? The full article is featured below.
A Chat with Dan Pastorini
By Melanie Saxton
Back in the “Love Ya Blue” days, Oiler fans flooded the Astrodome with pep-rallies, pom-poms and fight songs. “The 70s were magical years to fans and the players,” says former Houston Oiler quarterback Dan Pastorini. “Earl Campbell, Kenny Stabler, Mike Barber and Coach Bum Phillips were household words and touched the spirit of football fans in a way we haven’t seen before or since.” Looking back, Pastorini’s most nostalgic memories are of being a father. “It was a struggle balancing a demanding career while being a dad. I missed out on so much of my daughter, Brahna’s, childhood and wish I could have it to do over again.”
Pastorini has called the Houston area home since then — he’s bonded to the people and the culture. “I’ve left for California and Colorado but always came back.” After football, Pastorini pursued his passion for speed in top fuel dragsters, racing and finishing in the top 10 in ’86 and ’87. “I branched out into road racing in the early 90’s and again ’03 and ’04. Let me tell you, competitive sponsorships are difficult to come by!”
Pastorini has followed his heart into his family’s line of work. “Especially around Mother’s and Father’s Day I think of my mom, Dorothy, and dad, Dante, and regret not bringing them to Houston in the 70’s. For 37 years, they owned and operated Pastorini’s Longhorn in Sonora, Calif., and were the ultimate restaurateurs. Houstonians would have embraced them.” In their honor, Pastorini dusted off some favorite family recipes and, with a business partner out of California, created his Texas Style Rub. “My parents would be proud. They inspired a spice rub with no MSG that can be used on all meats, but also salads, chili, popcorn, gumbo and bread crumbs. It’s made in Texas, so we market tested it at the 2011 Houston Livestock & Rodeo Cook-off. Approximately 3,000-4,000 people tried it on chicken, ribs, brisket, tri-tip, frog legs and corn on the cob, and everybody liked it. This is a true testament to my parents, and we’re putting it on shelves as we speak,” says Pastorini.
Not only does his business partner reside in California, but so does Brahna, now 35. “My career and divorce strained our relationship,” says Pastorini. “Like so many single dads, I wasn’’t the presence in her life that I wish I’d been. Thirteen years ago I was hell-bent on getting the two of us back on track. I can honestly say that the best two days of my life were when Brahna was born and when we reunited. She lives in Long Beach, teaching tennis — she’s truly gifted — and working for Prudential Realty.” Thanks to Brahna, he has an additional love: granddaughter, Allie. As a never-married single mom, Brahna adopted the 3-year-old. “Allie is now 6 and I see how clever she is, twisting her mother around her finger,” says Pastorini. “I jokingly call that ‘payback.’”
For the past three years, Pastorini has had a wonderful lady in his life with her own California connections. “Pam’s son is 31 and her daughter is 35, both in Los Angeles. Between the two of us, we are blessed to have such a great kids.” His family has come full circle. “At this point, I’ve taken a step away from the fast lane. What once seemed important fades when I compare it to the importance of family. My focus going forward is preserving my parent’s culinary legacy. I want to pass it on to my daughter and granddaughter and share it with the people of Texas.” For more information, visit dpqualityfoods.com/about.asp