Splittorff, winningest Royals pitcher, dead at 64

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“He really got the most out of his ability,” said Denny Matthews, the Royals‘ radio broadcaster who called every major league game Splittorff pitched and became his close friend.

In 15 seasons, Splittorff was 166-143 with a 3.81 ERA. He also holds the Royals record for starts (392) and innings pitched (2,554 2-3).

Royals manager Ned Yost remembered facing Splittorff as a hitter for Milwaukee.

“He was a fierce competitor and always had good stuff,” Yost said. “Always well prepared. And he was like that here as a broadcaster. He was a guy that did his homework every single day.”

Splittorff was particularly effective in the Royals‘ memorable playoff battles with the New York Yankees in the 1970s and ‘80s. In seven postseason games, he was 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA.

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.

“Some people say Bo Jackson hit one farther,” White said with a grin. “Bo’s was higher, but Dick Allen’s was all the way to the back of the hill. Paul got to where he could laugh about it, too.”

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.

Though he did pre- and postgame shows, Splittorff was never able to regain the clear, distinct voice fans had known for more than two decades.

But he never quit trying.

“There was never a day where he just leaned on being Paul Splittorff,” Lefebvre said.

Splittorff is survived by his wife, Lynn, daughter, Jennifer, and son, Jamie. The club said visitation would be held next Monday at First United Methodist Church in Blue Springs and a funeral mass was scheduled for the following day at 11 a.m. in St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church in Blue Springs.

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