Josh found these cards of Splitt, as everyone called him and observed -- This morning, after spotting some news on the Internet about Paul Splittorff, I looked for him in my collection and found the three cards at the top of this page. At first brief glance I wondered if Topps had reused a photo of him for more than one card, as they’d done once in a great while with other players. But on a closer look it became clear by the variations in backgrounds behind Paul Splittorff and by the variations in clothing worn under the uniform of Paul Splittorff that the while the world around him changed, Paul Splittorff remained as unchanging as humanly possible, a still point, or maybe more accurately—judging from the arresting similarity from year to year in the shadow he cast—some kind of human sundial, a way to know time.
Posnanski asserts that Splitt was particularly reluctant to live in the past, even though it was quite a past --
He averaged 33 starts and 14 wins a year from 1972 to 1980. He threw 14 shutouts. He coaxed or induced or forced hitters into 276 double plays. He picked off 37 runners. He rarely gave up home runs. He carefully scouted batters long before video sessions became the vogue. He did whatever he could do. He was always there, a workhorse, a Clydesdale (as he called himself). He gave everything, and he played his whole career for one team, and he loved it, he loved the Royals, he would not have traded any of it in.
But when it ended, it ended. He did not long for the cheers again. He did not see current moments as an opportunity to tell stories from the past. He just didn’t see any need to relive it. “I lived it once,” he told me, “that was good enough.” He meant it. The thing that mattered to Paul Splittorff was excellence, striving for it, being good at what he was doing. He once laid into me when I wrote that baseball on the radio was better in many ways than baseball on television. In his mind, the medium didn’t matter. Baseball on television was as good as you made it. And he worked as hard as anyone in the business to make baseball on television informative and entertaining and an experience.