HOUSTON -- The news that former Royals pitcher Paul Splittorff died early Wednesday from complications of melanoma hit home for Astros bullpen coach Jamie Quirk, who was a teammate of Splittorff for four years and caught him on 10 different occasions.
"I knew that he had gone into the hospital a week ago or less," Quirk said. "The word had spread that he wasn't doing well and I heard this morning. Split was a great teammate, a great professional, taught me a lot about catching. I was a converted catcher and used to sit with him and go over hitters. He had a big influence in my career."
Splittorff spent his entire 15-year Major League career with the Royals and had a 166-143 record and 3.81 ERA in 429 regular-season games. He was in four postseasons with Kansas City, 1976, '77, '78 and '80, reaching the World Series in the latter year. His postseason mark was 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA. Both wins were against the Yankees, in 1976 and '77.
He not only holds the Royals' career record for victories, but he is the leader in starts (392) and innings pitched (2,554 2/3). Splittorff became the club's first 20-game winner in 1973, when he went 20-11. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1987.
Splittorff was in his 24th year working as an analyst on Royals broadcasts, and Quirk filled in for him on a few occasions in 2009, when he wasn't coaching.
"You had George Brett, who's the No. 1 Royal, and Frank White is probably No. 2," Quirk said. "No one has ever gotten past that, but I would still put Splitt No. 3. In Kansas City, he's gotten his due because he was a former player to broadcaster for 20-something years, and first as a pitcher, but I don't think people realize some of the things he's accomplished."