He was also teased by former teammates for holding the informal record of giving up the longest home run in Kauffman Stadium history _ a shot by Chicago White Sox slugger Dick Allen that carried almost to the top of the hill behind left field.
Splittorff lacked the natural talent of many of the top pitchers in Royals history, such as Steve Busby and Cy Young winners David Cone and Bret Saberhagen. But the fact he retired with more victories than any of the others is a testament to the iron-willed work ethic that characterized both his baseball and broadcasting careers.
“Paul didn’t have that electric slider or that devastating curveball,” White said. “But he was always steady and he always studied, always worked hard to do his very best. That’s why he was so successful both on and off the field.”
Even before he retired, Splittorff was preparing for a broadcasting career, covering high school football and basketball games for a local radio station.
At the time of his death, he was in his 24th season as a television analyst for FOX Sports Kansas City despite the speech problems that cropped up a couple years ago. White took over for him full time after opening day in 2009.
“He showed me how to prepare for games. He showed me what magazines to read, how to get ready,” White said. “We actually did a couple of games together. During those two brief broadcasts, it was really fun. I will never forget those two broadcasts. They were very meaningful.”
Though he did pre- and post-game shows, Splittorff was never able to regain the clear, distinct voice fans had known for more than two decades.
But he never quit trying.
“I never worked a game with him where I felt like he was giving a little less effort today than he did yesterday, whether it was research, talking to a player of a coach about a guy he didn’t know much about,” said Lefebvre. “There was never a day where he just leaned on being Paul Splittorff.”
Splittorff is survived by his wife, Lynn, daughter, Jennifer, and son, Jamie. Funeral arrangements were pending, and the Royals said the team will wear a memorial patch on the sleeve of their jerseys the rest of the season.
“He has completed his journey,” he said then. “Our skipper is safe at home.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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