Olyphant honors Nestor Chylak
Former American League umpire Nestor Chylak, recently inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame, had yet another honor bestowed upon him on the morning of August 7. Chylak who passed away in 1982, had a street named after him in his native town of Olyphant.
In a ceremony marked with speeches by his wife, brother and son, as well as the Olyphant American Legion firing a volley of rifle shots in his honor, the borough changed the name of Short Street to Nestor Chylak Drive.
Chylak was a graduate of Olyphant High School and then attended St. Thomas University [now the University of Scranton]. Before turning his attention to the possibility of a major league umpiring career, he served in the Army from 1942 until 1946.
While serving the country in World War II, Chylak was awarded the Silver Star medal as well as a Purple Heart for his bravery during the Battle of the Bulge.
After his discharge from the Army, Chylak concentrated on his umpiring career, but through all the years he spent paying his dues in the minors, he never forgot his family.
"The only thing that Nestor was more committed to than baseball was his family," his brother, Gene Chylak said before the hundreds of people gathered outside the Olyphant borough building.
"The first thing Nestor would do upon arrival at a hotel during the road games, would be to call Sue (Chylak's wife) and tell her that he missed her and couldn't wait to get back home."
After his promotion to the major leagues, Chylak called games for 25 years, well above the average for big league umpires. If there was ever an umpire deserving to be among the game's elite, it was the arbiter from Olyphant, in the opinion of his peers.
During his prominent career, he umpired five World Series, five All-Star games, and three American League Championship Series. The esteem in which Chylak was held by his fellow umpires was evident in 1979 when they elected him the assistant supervisor of American League umpires, a position he held until 1981.
Through it all — the awards, the prestigious positions, the traveling to the big cities — Chylak never forgot who he was, where his roots were, according to those who knew him best.
"Everywhere that Nestor went, he promoted Olyphant. He loved this town and was proud to say that he was a part of it," a teary-eyed Sue Chylak said.
Son Bill Chylak said that no matter where his father was, or how busy things were, he always had time for others.
"He would do anything for anybody. Whether it was helping his fellow soldiers out in the war, or assisting the restaurant managers and bartenders by washing glasses or mopping the floors during the road trips," Bill Chylak lamented. "Dad was always there for people."
The greed that surrounds today's sports, not coming only from players, but also the umpires, devalues everything that they are supposed to stand for. Fortunately, people in the borough of Olyphant, as well as all of Northeastern Pennsylvania, can always say they knew one of the good ones.