Nestor Chylak
Hall of Fame Opens Door for Nestor Chylak
Nestor Chylak Jr. HOF plaque. Cheering
an Umpire

by Scott Reinardy
July 26, 1999

If Nunny were here today, he would not believe what he was hearing.

More than 50,000 people stood and cheered, of all things, an umpire.  Hell, that's not only inappropriate, but downright embarassing.

Nestor Chylak never became a Major League Baseball umpire to hear the roar of the crowd.  In his business, compliments usually mean you did something wrong.

While Nunny may have reveled in being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he would have worn a sheepish grin the entire time.  He always loved a good joke and perhaps during this time of umpire unrest, no joke could be any better.

But on a bright, sunny day in Cooperstown, N.Y., the fans cheered for one of the best umpires ever to carry a wisk broom and a ball and strike counter.

In just a few weeks, the majority of major-league umpires say they will post their collective resignations.  They have some un-resolved issues and assume a walk-out will assist in rectifying their problems.

Meanwhile, one of their own was receiving the highest honor baseball can bestow after a dedicated career.

Job to do

Nestor almost appears to look through you as he stares out from his bronze plaque hanging in Hall of Fame gallery.   If you stand there long enough, you can hear him talk about today's game and the problems that follow.

"I never did like a work stoppage.  It's not right to stop the game on any account.  If you have a job to do, you do it.  You have the entire off-season to work out your disagreements.

"But, it's a different ballgame these days.  All business.

"I understand how it is.   The owners are making a bundle of money and the umpires want their slice of the pie.  I've been there before, but I never like to stop the game.

"In '72, we went on strike.   Damn, I hated that.  Baseball begins on Opening Day.  It was sacreligious to delay the season.  It's that union.  Sure it's helped us, but it shouldn't kill the game to do it.  There are other ways.  Of course, I just tried to keep the peace and shut my mouth.  I figured if I spoke up too loud I'd become an outcast.

"Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned, but where I come from you complete the job you start.  Now what will happen?  You'll have umps who are not qualified to do the job.  With playoffs and the World Series just around the corner, you need your best umpires on the field.

"The guys are different now.   That fella bumped a player a few weeks ago and that'd never happen when I was working.  Our job is to keep control of the game.  How can you do that when you can't control yourself?

"It wasn't always easy, but my last few years were the toughest.  Damn, I never wanted to leave the game, but they didn't give me a choice.

"Maybe it was time.   Umpires were changing.  They had a different attitude.  One time near the end of my career I told a guy in my crew about a mistake I thought he made the night before.  He said that if I bothered him too much he'd go see the umpires union about it.  How do you like that?

"All I can say is I was proud to put on that uniform and walk on the field.  It meant something.  And if you did a good job, you didn't hear nothing from nobody.  I guess all those cheers I heard today meant I screwed up."

No Nestor.  It was quite the opposite.  While current-day umpires are about to upstage the game, you reminded us why you are a Hall of Famer.  And why there are only seven others (umpires) in the Hall next to you.

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