May 25, 2011
Paul Splittorff, who passed away from oral cancer and melanoma on Wednesday at age 64, may not have had the highest Q rating when it came to a national profile.
In the households of Kansas City, though, Splittorff's name was synonymous with baseball. A tall and lanky lefty who sported both trademark glasses and a giant leg kick, "Splitt" was one of the franchise's first draft picks, its first 20-game winner and the first Royals pitcher to record a playoff victory.
He was also the winningest pitcher in team history (166 wins), a Yankee killer in those great Kansas City-New York playoff battles (2-0 with a 2.68 ERA in six ALCS games) and someone who never knew any uniform other than the Royals' powder blue. All of his 15 big league seasons came in Kansas City and he remained a popular broadcaster in town after his retirement in 1984 (one year before the Royals finally broke through for the team's first — and only — World Series championship).
Indeed, it's a sad day in Kansas City because Splittorff was among the group of players that rank just below George Brett when it comes to the team's pantheon of legends.
"He was the forever Royal," writes Blair Kerkhoff in the KC Star. "... Nobody who suited up for the Royals has been associated with the franchise longer than Splitt."