Nestor was selected for five World Series,
BY BORYS KRAWCZENIUK
Nestor Chylak Jr. locked baseball rules in his memory because he knew Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver lurked ready to pounce.
Players and managers could fume about his crew's calls as long as they didn't overdo it.
Mostly, they had little to complain about because his calls were very accurate, players and fellow umpires said.
"Nestor Chylak was my favorite umpire," Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson said. "I mean, he was the best (at) calling balls and strikes or whatever. I always felt like the best umps are the ones you never heard about. Nestor always let you have a say and go about your business. He was terrific."
In a time when umpires were chosen by merit for World Series playoffs and All-Star games, Nestor was selected for five World Series, six All-Star games and three American League playoff series in his 25-year career.
Nestor joins the legendary roster of the Baseball Hall of Fame today (July 25, 1999) because he pushed himself to do the job right, his friends, family and colleagues said.
He learned from the best. Bill McGowan, a legendary ump and one of seven others in the Hall, headed his first crew in the major leagues.
"He thought he was doing the job exactly as he [McGowan] wanted [him] to do," Nestor's widow, Sue Chylak, said.
Nestor also worked at umpiring year-round. Long before spring training, he could quote the rules numerically by section and paragraph, Nestor's son, Bill said.
"He knew every rule, and you had to with Earl Weaver because he'd catch you. Earl Weaver knew those rules inside and out," Mrs. Chylak said of the ornery Hall of Fame manager who delighted in questioning umps' calls.
Nestor, who stood about 6 feet tall, weighed about 200 pounds and loved to eat, sweated away the extra off-season pounds playing hand-ball and working out at Weston Field in Scranton.
During spring training in Florida, Nestor sharpened his timing. His love of dancing helped him develop the grace and nimbleness that contributed to his perfect timing, his brother Eugene Chylak said. Nestor once explained the importance of timing on a pitch to his brother.
"When you're going down to get into position, if you don't have that timing, if you go down too fast, you're going to shake and you're going to miss a pitch. Or if you're not going down fast enough, you're going down when the pitch is coming in, you're going to miss the pitch," Eugene Chylak said.
On rare off days, Nestor might watch a game and rate umps or scour out-of-town newspapers for tidbits that gave him a better understanding of the game.
"One thing about Nestor, the guy loved baseball. He ate and slept it," Eugene Chylak said. "He was at the ballpark three, four hours before a game."
He used the time to rev himself into a game-time intensity, said former American League umpire Don Denkinger, whose second and third seasons in 1970 and 1971 were spent with Nestor's crew.
"I never saw him walk on the field without being ready to do the job and believing he was the best to do the job," Mr. Denkinger said.
Although other umps who worked with Nestor disagreed, Mr. Denkinger said Nestor was "a pitcher's umpire." A pitcher's umpire isn't afraid to err on the pitcher's side and call a strike if a pitch is close. Mr. Denkinger and former major leaguer Dick Tracewski said.
"Nestor always said this: Never, ever call a strike a ball. You can call a ball a strike once in a while, but never (the opposite) because it slows the game down." said Mr. Tracewski, a Peckville resident who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers and also coached for the Tigers.
Nestor also had an air of confidence that let managers and players know he was in charge of the game. He could sell a call so no one doubted he was right.
"It flowed from him." current American League umpiring supervisor Marty Springstead said.
Nestor avoided keeping an argument going if a manager or player stopped, which might be how he avoided ejecting Mr. Weaver and Billy Martin, another infamous umpire-hater.
"My father taught me that if you start an argument with me and you turn around and walk away, fight's over," Bill Chylak said.
There was a limit to jawing at him. He knew fans paid to see the players, but he could occasionally stretch the rules to clarify on-field hierarchy for the forgetful.
Former local sportscaster Ron Allen said Nestor told him about a run-in with Boston Red Sox slugger George Scott that illustrated the lengths he would go to maintain respect for umpires.
With the Red Sox behind a run, Mr. Scott came up at Fenway Park in Boston in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded. On a 3-2 count, Nestor rang him up with a called strike three, Mr. Allen said. Scott called Nestor a name unsuitable for publication.
Instead of trying to get Scott fined, Nestor waited the next time he was behind the plate and Scott was the hitter.
The Sox were playing the Angels in California when Scott came up against Clyde Wright. Buck Rodgers, who would go on to manage one day, was the catcher.
"Scott gives (Nestor) a look and doesn't say a word," Mr. Allen said. "Nestor leans over and whispers something in Rodger's ear. Rodgers takes off the mask and goes out to talk to Wright. 'Clyde, Nestor says all you gotta do is make it reach.'"
Three pitches later, none of them necessarily over the plate, Scott was called out on strikes.
"Next time he came up to the plate, and there was no problem. 'Nestor, how are you?' 'George, how you doing?' " Mr Allen said.
No less than Ted Williams considered the game's greatest hitter and known for his batting eye, thought Nestor belonged in the Hall of Fame. Former American League umpire Bill Haller, who worked with Nestor during the 1960s, said Nestor umpired the way Mr. Williams hit.
"I didn't see any better," Mr. Haller said.