Kansas University football and basketball play-by-play man/Kansas City Royals announcer Bob Davis worked Wednesday night’s K.C.-Baltimore baseball broadcast with a heavy heart.
Former Royals’ pitching great Paul Splittorff, who is a member of the club’s broadcast team, died earlier in the day at the age of 64.
“Paul is a very close friend and co-worker. It’s a really tough situation. We are all really saddened, but glad he’s not suffering now,” Davis said in a phone interview after the Royals’ 9-2 loss at Camden Yards.
“He was a great pitcher and broadcaster, but more importantly a great guy. Those of us who knew him are down in the dumps,” added Davis, who last visited with Royals Hall of Famer Splittorff a week ago at Kauffman Stadium.
Splittorff, who died of complications from skin cancer, had been a frequent visitor to Allen Fieldhouse since his playing days ended in 1984.
The tall, bespectacled left-handed pitcher, who won a Royals-record 166 games, branched out into basketball, working both Big Eight and Big 12 network contests.
“I think he especially liked all the places that were special places for college basketball — Lawrence, Stillwater, Ames. He liked Hilton Magic,” Davis said. “I think he thought college basketball was special and the one thing that made it so good was the venues.
“He got along with Bob Knight. He knew Bill (Self), Norm (Stewart), Larry Eustachy. He got along with everybody.”
Davis said Splittorff was a good athlete and broadcaster because ... “he worked at it. In baseball he was a 25th round draft pick. Not only did he make it to the majors, he was a 20-game winner (1973) and key starter on some really great teams. In broadcasting, he started at the bottom. He did high school games (at Blue Springs, Rockhurst and other K.C.-area schools). He had two distinct careers as a baseball player and broadcaster and was excellent at both.”
KU trio in draft: ESPN.com’s Chad Ford has released his first 2011 NBA mock draft following last week’s combine in Chicago. He has KU’s Marcus Morris being selected No. 11 overall by the Golden State Warriors; Markieff Morris No. 16 overall by the Philadelphia 76ers and Josh Selby No. 17 overall by the New York Knicks.
Of Marcus Morris, Ford wrote: “The Warriors have a lot of front court needs, especially at the 5. But without a legit center available at this point, Morris is a serious option. His ability to play multiple positions and score both on the perimeter and in the post, plus his maturity level, make him a great fit in Golden State.”
Of Markieff, he said: “The Sixers really need a big man, and Morris, a Philly native, is the best left on the board. Morris has a rep as a good defender, shot-blocker and rebounder — but he also proved at Kansas that he can step out and hit the 3. He’s a bit rawer than his brother, but he’s a good get at this point in the draft.”
Of Selby, Ford said: “GM Donnie Walsh may have made the biggest mistake of his career when he passed on a number of terrific young but unproven point guards in 2009 so he could draft Jordan Hill. ... Don’t expect the Knicks to make the same mistake again. ... Selby has lottery talent but a shaky résumé. It may be a risk taking him this high, but he has a very high upside.”
Ford reported Wednesday night that the 6-foot-2 Selby had a 42-inch vertical jump at the combine.
“He’s another big risk because he really flamed out at Kansas this year. But there were extenuating circumstances and the truth is that Selby is a big-time talent who may have the quickest first step in the draft. He’s going to be able to get to the basket,” Ford wrote.
Roundball Classic June 16: Tickets are on sale for the Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, to be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 16, at Free State High School. Several former KU players will play in a game to raise money for the Souter family of Lawrence, who recently lost their 5-year-old daughter, Jayden “Baby Jay” Souter, to cancer.
Some of the featured players and coaches: Bill Self, Wayne Simien, Scot Pollard, Darnell Jackson, Keith Langford, Russell Robinson, Bud Stallworth, Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar.
Tickets are on sale at the Great Plains Media Radio Stations , the 23rd Street Brewery and J&S Coffee. Walk-up tickets can be purchased on the day of the game at 5:30 p.m.