Royals legend Splittorff in hospital
The family of Paul Splittorff, the winningest pitcher in Kansas City Royals history and a popular television announcer for the team, announced on Monday he has entered an area hospital for treatment of oral cancer and melanoma.
Splittorff, 64, worked the Royals' last homestand the first week in May. He had kept working Royals games the past two seasons even though he sometimes had difficulty speaking distinctly.
A left-hander, Splittorff won 166 games in a 15-year career and in 1973 became the first Royals pitcher to win 20 games. He retired in 1984 when the Royals brought up several young pitchers, including Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza, who led them to the 1985 World Series title.
Splittorff was entering his 24th season as a Royals broadcaster. He had also worked for many years broadcasting college basketball.
A member of the Royals' hall of fame, Splittorff was known for a determined work ethic as both a player and a broadcaster. Often, before games when other pitchers would be playing cards in the air-conditioned clubhouse, Splittorff would be jogging laps around the field.
''He was always a hard worker with a great attitude and great mental toughness,'' said Denny Matthews, the Royals' hall of fame radio broadcaster who called every game Splittorff pitched. ''Splitt has always been a fierce competitor. And he's always taken care of himself. If anybody can battle this and fight his way through it, he'd be the guy. He's got a lot of mental toughness.''
Splittorff made his major league debut in September of 1970. He was never an All-Star, but finished in the league's top 10 in wins in 1973, 1977 and 1978.