IN MEMORY….PAUL SPLITTORFF: 1946 – 2011

Posted: June 1, 2011 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , , ,

–          By Matt Oates, guest writer

Last Wednesday, the Kansas City Royals, Kansas City and the sports world at large, lost a great man when Paul Splittorff succumbed to a bout with cancer & melanoma Wednesday morning. In recent weeks, Splitt had to leave the booth because he was ill with some unknown ailment but if you have been following the Royals for a while you probably thought it had something to do with his voice. Splitt’s normally booming voice had grown increasingly hoarse & stressed over the past couple seasons. After a while, he struggled to get enough voice to be audible on TV. It was painful to watch because you know from all the stories about Splitt as a player that he was a tough, gritty man & he was trying to tough this out too.

Splittorff won 166 games in his career and carried a 2.79 postseason ERA as well.

Paul Splittorff has been part of the Royals franchise since its inception in 1969. He was drafted from a small school in the Royals first amateur draft & would make his debut in 1970. From there he would go on to be one of, if not the best, pitcher in franchise history. Splitt was the anchor of the dominant Royals squads of the 70s & 80s compiling the best record in franchise history, and NEVER lost a playoff game. He owned the New York Yankees during the rivalry in the late 70s and earned the nickname of the “Yankee Killer”. Splitt would retire in 1984, a season before the magical 1985 season. He suffered from agonizing back problems that plagued him for his final years in his career. Splitt would then move over to the booth, first doing local high school & college sports and then as a member of the Royals TV broadcasts. That’s the capacity I knew him in as I wasn’t even alive during his great career.

Splitt’s voice, along w/ Denny Matthews, have become a part of the soundtrack of my summers growing up in Kansas City. Though I never met him personally, he was there when I’d sit down to eat dinner with my family on summer nights, explain to me the strategy of a particular play & then I’d try to pass it off as my “wisdom” to my teammates on my little league teams. He never held any punches when it came to critique of his beloved franchise which would assure me that I wasn’t crazy for feeling a certain way during the long summers of Royals losing but then he’d almost act as a comforter that things would be better one day for the Royals & their fans. He shared our hope that the Royals brighter days were ahead of us.

We’ll here’s hoping things are better for you, Splitt and here’s hoping his family and friends finds peace in their time of grieving.

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