Nestor Chylak, the "Dean of Umpires" was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. in March 1999 and will be inducted on July 25th. A Ukrainian American from Olyphant, Pennsylvania, Nestor Chylak (1923-1982) was the son of one of the founders of the Ukrainian Fraternal Association and himself was active in Ukrainian church and cultural activities. He had an excellent singing voice.
The New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, when he was told about Chylak's election, said that "He was an umpire's umpire. He kept the game under control, but he would also listen to you when you had a beef. They have umpires today who give you the heave-ho when you open your mouth. Nestor would let you talk your piece and then he'd say "Fine, let's play."
Chylak was an umpire in the American League for 25 seasons from 1954 to 1978 and was famous for his excellent knowledge of the rule book. he would often quote from memory when he ruled on a play. He loved baseball and was widely respected for the accuracy of his calls and for calling the plays right. He umpired five World Series, seven All-Star games and three American League playoff series. After he retired from the baseball field he was an assistant to the American League's Executive Director of Umpires.
The first professional game he umpired was in Hamilton, Ontario [Canada] and he was the umpire for the first game played by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Nestor Chylak served in the American Army for four years, with 30 months overseas, during World War II and was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded several times in the battle and one time he received a critical wound but recovered. After returning home to Olyphant, Pa., he eventually became interested in a baseball career since as a boy he was fascinated with baseball and knew all the baseball statistics forward and backward.
Mr. Chylak's widow, Sue Maria (Shemet), still lives in Dunmore, Pa. where Nestor Chylak retired and died on February 17, 1982. He had two sons Robert and William. Mrs. Chylak, her sons or Nestor's brother will probably make the induction speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"In my time around baseball, Nestor Chylak was the best umpire I ever saw, and I regret not having told him so. He is the kind of guy who would have appreciated it, even coming from a mere sports writer," said Bob Maisel in 1982.
FORUM UKRAINIAN REVIEW No. 100, Summer 1999