As Aaron Stilley wrote on this site a couple days ago, many amazing words have already been written about the life and death of Paul Splittorff, the former Royals pitcher who passed away this week.
I was barely five years old when Paul Splittorff retired from the Kansas City Royals in 1984, and I have no memory of him as a pitcher. In fact, some of my earliest memories of baseball and of life are watching the 1985 World Series, in which the Royals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.
Paul Splittorff retired one year too soon to be a part of that championship team. But then again, maybe Splitt was part of that championship. His last year was also the first year for future Royals Hall of Famers Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza. Do you think Splittorff, the winningest pitcher in team history, had an influence on those two hurlers? You bet he did.
Although I never saw Splitt play, I was lucky enough to enjoy the entirety of his broadcasting career.
And he was, simply, amazing.
I’d like to think I know a lot about baseball. But every time I listened to Splittorff broadcast a game – every single time – I learned something new about America’s pastime.
Splittorff was a baseball professor of the highest order. He served as a perfect contrast to Denny Matthews and Fred White and Bob Davis and, later, Ryan Lefebvre. He seemed to know everything about pitching and nearly as much about hitting. You have to wonder – what made him turn to broadcasting instead of coaching? Surely he would have been a successful baseball manager.
Frank White is the new commentator for the Kansas City Royals. And I love Frank White, as a person, a player and a broadcaster. But in the booth, he’s no Splitt.
I will miss Paul Splittorff very much.
Matt Kelsey is a Royals writer and associate editor for I-70 Baseball. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.