Paul Splittorff, more than anybody I have ever known, refused to live in the past. He had a wonderful past to live in. He won 166 games as a pitcher in the big leagues — he still holds the Royals record for most pitching victories and will own it for years to come. He twice beat the Yankees in the playoffs, enough to be called a “Yankee Killer” for a time (though, as he would say, he had a losing record against the Yankees). He pitched in the World Series. He struck out Reggie Jackson 23 times in his life. Carl Yastrzemski, Al Kaline, Henry Aaron, Billy Williams and Frank Robinson hit a combined .146 against him. He never said much about any of that. He did mention, now and again, that Dick Allen owned him. But only if you asked.
The point is that he had a full life to relive. If that was my life, I would bore people to tears with the stories. Here’s what Paul Splittorff did in the second part of his life: He broadcast sports. He called high school sports. He called college sports. And he called the Kansas City Royals. He worked on his rhythms. He worked on the silences too. He eliminated the stutters, the hesitations, the ums and ers that pepper talk for the rest of us. He became exactly what he was as a pitcher: A professional. That was important to him. Splitt never wanted anything given to him. He could not tolerate the thought that he was an ex-ballplayer in the booth. That word, “ex,” was an abomination to him. He never wanted to be seen as an “ex” anything. If you were living as an ex, you were not living in real time.
Sad news, indeed. Sounds like Splittorff was a good man.