Paul Splittorff passed away this week.
He was not your mailman. He was not the guy at Ace Hardware who helped you pick out the matching pan head screw for your bathroom. He was not an engineer for the railroad. He was not the waiter at the Plaza III that picked out the perfect wine to complement your meal. He was not the janitor at your kids elementary school. He was not an art teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute. He was not a counter worker at Gates yelling “How May I Help You?” But Paul Splittorff could have been any one of those people who cross your path incognito every day of your life.
The funny thing is that Paul Splittorff WAS one of those people. He was a guy who did his job and went home to his family. He was a guy who worked for YOU every day of his working life. He was a man who was more Kansas City than some of us who have lived here their whole lives. And what did we really know about him?
We know he’s won more games than any pitcher in Royals history. We know he beat the Yankees in the playoffs, and God Bless him for that. We know he fought for his team…our team…as if his blood had been spilled defending our city. And he did it without any of us knowing how great he was. Until he passed away this week.
Paul Splittorff was a GREAT Kansas Citian. He was a man who represented our city with the same values that we have all been raised with. He worked hard. He took care of his family. He took pride in anything he did. And he went home, every night, knowing that his accolade was walking into his family’s arms and knowing…knowing…that he had done his best that day.
That is Paul Splittorff’s legacy. He was what we have always wanted in a hero. He was someone who did the same things we did on a daily basis but on a grander scale. He didn’t care about what WE thought of him, and that’s what makes his passing hurt maybe a little more. Because we should have let him know more often what we thought of him. Which is that he was a Kansas Citian, and that’s the greatest compliment we could have ever paid him.