The Kansas City Royals confirmed yesterday that broadcaster and former pitcher Paul Splittorff has been hospitalized in his battle with cancer. The club released the following statement:
The family of Paul Splittorff has confirmed that he has been admitted to an area hospital and has received treatment for both oral cancer and melanoma. The family has also requested to please respect their privacy during this difficult time and to expect no further comments on his condition.
Splittorff, 64, spent his entire 15-year career with the Royals (1970-84). Splittorff is the franchise's career record holder with 166 victories, 392 stars, and 2,554 and 2/3 innings pitched. He's also the Royals' first-ever 20-game winner (going 20-11 in 1973).
MLB.com has a good story about Splittorff with a few details about his fight with cancer:
Royals fans became aware of Splittorff's difficulties during the Opening Day telecast from Chicago on April 8, 2009. He teamed with Ryan Lefebvre to do the game but had problems with his voice and returned home.
"From the very beginning, he didn't want anybody to feel sorry for him because he was determined he was going to fight this and he's going to continue to fight this," Lefebvre said.
Splittorff worked determinedly to recover and has worked intermittently on Royals and Big 12 basketball telecasts ever since. He appeared in pre- and postgame broadcasts this year, and also worked in the booth during a series in Texas. He was scheduled to work last week's series in New York, but that was canceled.
"He worked at it, he did speech therapy, and I really thought there was a point when he was sounding more like himself," Lefebvre said. "We really didn't know the extent of it and we respected the fact that he didn't want to talk about it, not to mention that if somebody asked him about it, he'd say, 'I'm doing fine.' "
The Star's Sam Mellinger also has a really touching column that's worth a read.