OTC: Ex-Royal Paul Splittorff Loses Battle To Melanoma


“Normally when you hear news like this you have heard about it for quite a length of time and have had time to reflect on the guy. But man, what a bomb to drop on today. … I had heard rumors that Paul had told somebody that he was going in for some treatment at the hospital and he would be out in seven to ten days. That was seven to ten days ago.”
George Brett, in an interview with Bob Fescoe, on the passing of his former teammate Paul Splittorff, 610 AM
“You can never be ready even when you think you are when a loved one passes away.”
Fred Patek, former Royals shortstop, talking with Petro on 810 AM
GH: When I heard Nate Bukaty read the Royals’ email before 8:00 AM this morning announcing the passing of Splitt I was finishing my morning run. I ran the last block with my left arm raised to honor the Royals big southpaw.
“I was really kept out of the loop. I think a lot of people were – due to the Splittorffs wishes and demands. When someone says please respect their privacy I tend to do that. I wish I would have made an effort to call Lynn or call Jamie or call Jennifer to see how their dad was doing. That’s a regret that I have right now.”
George Brett, 610 AM
GH: There are likely many friends of the Splittorffs who never got a chance to talk to Paul in his final days. Splitt was a very private man who lived a very public life – a difficult dichotomy to traverse at best.
“Every time I would ask him how he was doing he would just say, ‘I’m fine,’ and then want to change the subject and talk about the baseball team.”
Nate Bukaty, 810 AM
“I don’t know if it takes a little of the sting out of it that we heard about this (last week) and knew that it was going to happen. We knew this day was going to come sooner rather than later.”
Toby Cook, Royals VP, 610 AM
GH: I tried to imagine the impact this news would have had today if we had not been aware of Splitt’s serious illness. Shocking would not have come close to describing how we all would have reacted.
“Splitt story: Press dining room – Splitt goes back for thirds. Looks at me and says, ‘I paid 10 bucks. I’m getting fair value.’ Hilarious.”
Brad Porter, of Metro Sports, Twitter
“Splitt was outstanding. He was the face of this franchise for a long time on the broadcasts. We have lost one of the great ones. One of the great ones in the history of this town. I’ll never forget him. I learned a ton of baseball from him.”
Soren Petro, 810 AM
GH: One of the best changes from the baseball broadcasters I grew up with in the ‘60s to the analysts like Splitt today is the way he and others are able to educate fans on the inner-workings of the game. Petro is about as arrogant as anyone in the media when it comes to his baseball knowledge — but even he is willing to admit he learned much from Splitt.
“It literally did not matter where you were on the broadcasting ladder with him. Everyone was a potential friend and another baseball fan to Splitt.”
Kurtis Seaboldt, 810 AM
GH: This is a great window into Splitt. There is a very strict class system in the media which often ostracizes those on the lower rungs. Splitt refused to play that game and his legion of fans inside and outside the press box is evidence to it.   
“He was very comfortable in his own skin. He was just one of those guys who would look you in the eye. He was just a man!”
Bob Davis, who worked with Splitt on Royals broadcasts as well as Big 12 basketball games, in an interview with Nate Bukaty and Steven St. John, 810 AM
GH: If you can live 64 years and have someone say this about your life, you spent your time on earth well.
“He wasn’t a guy who would just throw his name on things. He actually worked them.”
Al Fitzmorris, in an interview with Soren Petro, 810 AM
“Paul Splittorff will be remembered in this town as a terrific pitcher but even a better person. He was a class act. What we’ll remember most is what a great guy he was.”
Steven St. John, 810 AM
“He was fiercely loyal and strong as a person are two things I will remember most about Splitt. Paul Splittorff didn’t want sympathy from anybody or anything.”
Nate Bukaty, 810 AM
GH: Nate retold a story about how Trey Hillman had embarrassed Bukaty over a question he asked in a Royals post-game presser. Nate saw Splitt on television just after that presser ended and watched as he publicly defended Bukaty’s question to Hillman. That is strong stuff for a young reporter to get the public backing of a guy like Splitt.
“He would say, ‘You want me to plunk somebody? Just tell me who it is.’ He would protect his teammates.”
Fred Patek, retelling stories about his former teammate, 810 AM
“I think you would all agree as a career soldier for the Royals, Splittorff deserves a statue in our monument park.”
Greg Schaum, of PineTarPress.com, Twitter
GH: Splitt was not always one of the Royals favorites – due to his penchant for being honest and sometimes critical of the team and franchise. But Frank White had his run ins with the Royals as well and still got a statue at The K. But Splitt’s talents were not in the same arena as White or Brett. Is love alone for a player enough to earn permanent recognition in the form of a bronze statue? In Splitt’s case I would say yes.
“I can relate to losing someone to cancer and losing a fan favorite broadcaster, but I don’t know Splitt. So you’re the co-host today.”
Danny Parkins, a Syracuse grad who has only been on the job at 610 Sports since April 1, 2011
GH: This is a problem in hiring talent from outside the Kansas City/Big 12 market. When an event that needs some local history develops, the out-of-town host is left looking lost.
“Obviously a sad day for anyone who loves the Royals. We will do our best to pay tribute to our dear friend and colleague tonight (on Royals’ FoxSports television broadcast) at 5:30.”
Joel Goldberg, who hosted the Royals postgame broadcast with Splitt the last three seasons, Twitter
GH: I hope to get home in time to DVR this tribute. There are also plans in the works to commemorate Splitt before the Memorial Day game at The K this coming Monday. Wear your big-framed 1980’s glasses and tape the number 34 to your t-shirt. See you there.
“We’re all gonna miss him a ton.”
Bob Davis, 810 AM
GregHall24@yahoo.com and Twitter / greghall24
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20 Responses to OTC: Ex-Royal Paul Splittorff Loses Battle To Melanoma

  1. harley says:

    the big mound for splitt
    the guy didn’t go quietly…went on his own terms. Pitched til the final inning with courage and
    veracity. A great closer…a great player….a much much better human being.
    Here we go royals here we go (clap/clap).

  2. Ptolemy says:

    Very well done GH.

  3. blue springstein says:

    foxsports tribute
    hey greg, if you have time warner cable you may be able to set your dvr from your computer, I just learned about this yesterday… NO, I DO NOT work for TWC!!

  4. Splitt fan says:

    RIP Splitt

    Thanks for keeping us abreast of this story. This sickness and death hit me harder than usual. I am always surprised why I care about people I never met, except knwoing them on TV and as a ball player of MY TEAM…. but I am gutted over this, it makes me feel really really sad… and compiled on top of my freinds getting pounded down in Jopln and …..well….. another person I didnt know, but I admired ,Mark Haines on CNBC dies last night, I will miss him……… fuck…. that is all I can say fuck….. fuck this shit….. sad days indeed.

    Greg Hall, you Jayhawk hating piece of shit…… you did the EXACT CORRECT THINGS REPORTING THIS STORY…… and if I aint kissing trying to be nice…. hell at this point I would just assume rail on you….but ….you did good man….. if you had not braced us for this last week, and if it had just been dropped out of the blue bomb today …it would suck more…

    Thanks Greg Hall. peace

  5. Splitt fan says:

    I strongly approve of the picture you chose for this story,

    Sometime you guys pick such stupid dumbass pictures on this site, but that is a great one, it is the way we want to remember Paul Splittorff, a lifetime Royals picture…… FKN-A!!!

  6. Jip says:

    RIP Splitt. I was that rare age where i have no memory of him as a pitcher and no memory of anybody else but him as a Royals broadcaster.

    I loved Splitt. Always did. To me, he was just as much the voice of the Royals as Denny Matthews. Hearing his voice talk Royals baseball sweeps me back to my childhood.

  7. Craig Glazer says:

    He was a True Blue Royal and a Nice Person
    Very sad. Great story Greg, you did a pro job on this top to bottom. Paul will be missed by so many, he was THE ROYAL, along with Brett and Frank White. Hope the club honors him on the wall, he’s earned it.

  8. CMac says:

    I remember as a kid it seemed like every package of baseball cards I got had a Splitt card just like every package of football cards had a Spider Lockhart card. RIP Splitt!

  9. Cliffy says:

    Splitt never had the flash like Busby, Leonard, and Gura. He was never an All Star but man was he steady. He was never the ace but he was the kind of pitcher every winning team needs on its staff.

    Way to go Paul. You done good. RIP.

  10. smartman says:

    Splitt Changes Teams
    Dateline Heaven:

    Life long Kansas City Royals pitcher Paul Splittorf signed a lifetime contract today with the Angels.

    Manager Jesus said “we called him up earlier than we wanted to but Killebrew has been killing it for the Seraphim and we wanted to class things up a little bit.

  11. Gavin says:

    Nice work, Greg
    This is one of your better columns, Greg. I grew up watching Splitt and he always struck me as someone who not only had talent but integrity and it’s good that he is being remembered that way.

    If I could nitpick one thing, I’d like to point out where you said “Splitt was a very private man who lived a very public life. . .” I disagree. Splitt was a very private man who had a very public career. I don’t recall anything about him that would make me think he was living his life in the public eye. He just had a job where lots of people were watching. I don’t recall hearing any stories about Splitt opening a new club or restaurant or getting caught in some nasty scandal. In the end, he was a public figure who didn’t get to keep his private life as private as he would have liked, but I’m not sure it’s accurate to say he lived a very public life.

    Still, loved this OTC and I agree that the photo of him was an excellent choice.

  12. Ptolemy says:

    One More Thing
    Not to completely kick the mourning caravan to the curb, but I DO want to point out that the way Splitt chose to deal with this disease and finish-out his run was kick-ass. “Sick? No, I’m fine…just a virus. Do you believe Hillman…what in the world is he doing with the pitching staff in that game last night?” It was an effort reminiscent of the Dark Knight in Python’s Holy Grail, “It’s just a flesh wound….c’mon and fight ya pansy!”

  13. EXACTLY says:

    Nah it s just a little virus…. my voice will be back……

    Hey, Im going in for a couple of tests, I’ll be back in a week or so…..

    “It’s just a flesh wound….c’mon and fight ya pansy!”


    Paul Splittorff, striking out Killebrew, up in baseball heaven, pissing him off…having fun ……YEAH BABY!!!


    Yeah Greg if you could sneak into the funeral and snap a few pictures, that’d be great.

    You’ve got your reputation as a bottom-feeding scumbag to protect.

  15. Splitt Fan says:

    For every snide childish loser posting stupid comment like that one, there are 20 that agree with how Greg Handled this. If you are a family member or someone worthy to feel like your privacy was invaded, then speak up explain how so…….., but odds are that you are just an unhappy loser troll wasting time, if so, please go away. please dont clutter up a good thread with dumb comments.

  16. Steve Laningham says:

    RIP Yankee killer
    Big game pitcher, man was nothing but class and that is in short supply these days.

  17. The Independent Rage says:

    Outstanding Compilation of Splittorff Anecdotes
    I’ve long had a very positive view of Splittorff the man, ballplayer and commentator, but that was only augmented to a large extent reading all of those quotes. Wish I had some good anecdote to add, but I don’t. My only personal experience with Splitt came in circa 1980/81 when he and Dennis Leonard made a Royals Caravan (I think they called it that) visit to the tiny town of 9,000 — Nevada, MO — to sign autographs at the local Wal-Mart.

    As a 10-year-old or so, both gentlemen struck me as very personable. Matching the people above who described Splitt as a potential friend to everyone, that’s exactly how he struck the young Rager. I still recall Splitt not being in any big hurry to get out of the notorious little Bushwhacker hamlet — instead, at the end of his autograph session (I got there at the very end), he inquired of a store employee whether there was anywhere locally where he and Leonard might be able to enjoy a “cocktail” and maybe a decent steak. (They sent them to a joint on the town square that no longer exists — I think it was called “Bob Moore’s Restaurant and Lounge”).

    Anyway, as for: “I tried to imagine the impact this news would have had today if we had not been aware of Splitt’s serious illness. Shocking would not have come close to describing how we all would have reacted.” Point very well taken. And I appreciate the phraseology and not referencing who first broke that news. As alluded to in my comment on Nick Wright yesterday, humility when completely appropriate is an important (yet often lost) virtue in today’s news, sports and social media.

  18. MoCrash says:

    Splitt vs. Brew
    During their playing careers, Splitt struck out Killebrew 6 times in 33 appearances, allowing only 1 HR, so I like his chances in the Great Diamond in the Sky.

    So long, Splitt, RIP. You were a class act that represented your team, community and family proudly.

  19. Jay Bee says:

    Long Live the Legendary Lefty
    Great read and well done as always Hall. I have read your columns since 1997 in the various formats they have been presented and this is a great one. Nice job.

    They don’t make baseball players like Splitt anymore (Brett and White being of the same generation and caliber obviously). Guys that play for the love of the game, those who start as students and then become masters of it…jeez, just those who stay with the SAME TEAM for an entire career is unheard of in today’s game! Money and agents and agents with too much money have made this a very different game from when we watched Splitt come up. Do I even need to get into the work ethic of guy’s like Splitt (not too many of them around) versus the work ethic of today’s player?

    RIP sir. You will be missed on MANY levels…

    Hall, I know you had to hear Brett’s comments the other day regarding Splitt – I mean you quote him in your story but I was kind of blown away by some of the things I heard from GB the other day on Fox 4. Did I hear GB correctly when he said that he had no idea that Splitt wa sthe winningest pitcher in Royals history and he also didn’t know he held the record for most wins in a season? Are you kidding me? Was Brett playing on a different Royals team or is he just that self-absorbed that he didn’t notice these things about a guy he played with for years and has been around for years in the same park and same organization – day after day…year after year. REALLY?

    If find that hard to believe…unless GB is just that that much of a cock-knock that he doesn’t care about anyone but himself – which I would totally believe.


  20. Fred says:

    Denny Matthews
    Denny had a moment of silence on his broadcast the other night. But no one could tell the difference.
    RIP Splitt.

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