KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Paul Splittorff, the big lefthander who became the winningest pitcher in Kansas City Royals history and a popular broadcaster for the team, died yesterday of complications from skin cancer. He was 64.
The Royals said Splittorff died at home in Blue Springs, Mo. His family announced 10 days ago that he had been battling melanoma and oral cancer.
Fans noticed on opening day in 2009 that his speech had become slurred, though Splittorff kept his health issues private until his plight was reported by online columnist Greg Hall.
"He didn't want anyone to feel sorry for him," Royals broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre said.
Drafted by the expansion Royals in 1968, Splittorff spent his entire 15-year career in Kansas City. A tall, bespectacled lefty with a high leg kick, he often appeared to squint into the catcher's mitt. That sometimes proved disconcerting to hitters.
He was particularly effective in the Royals' memorable playoff battles with the Yankees in the 1970s and '80s. In seven postseason games, he was 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA.
Splittorff retired during the 1984 season with a club-record 166 victories. He was in his 24th season as a TV analyst for FOX Sports Kansas City despite the speech problems that cropped up a couple years ago.
Splittorff is survived by his wife, Lynn; a daughter and a son.