Bob Chylak's induction speech for his father, Nestor Chylak, provided some of the most powerful moments of induction day. Nestor Chylak, who died in 1982, became just the eight umpire among 244 players, managers and other contributors enshrined in the Hall of Fame museum.
The Class of '99 included Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers and George Brett of the Kansas City Royals, two players who were synonymous with their teams while becoming members of the 3,000-hit club. Mr. Chylak was one of three men inducted posthumously, joining Negro leagues star "Smokey" Joe Williams and manager Frank Selee, who won nearly 1,300 games at the turn of the century.
"Few umpires clearly stood out as being at the top, but clearly (Nestor) did," Bob Chylak told the largest crowd in Hall of Fame history. "The question I get is why. One reason was his on-field demeanor. He was decisive, consistent, authoritative and unflappable. He let the managers or players have their say, and then he moved on."
A number of the record 34 Hall of Fame members who attended the induction remembered Nestor Chylak the same way.
"I think all the ballplayers said the same thing about him," said Rollie Fingers, who saved 341 games during his major-league career. "They said he was a great ball/strike umpire. No one ever had any problems with him behind home plate. I don't remember anybody ever saying anything bad about his ball/strike calls.
Not that saying such things was a good idea when Mr. Chylak was there to hear them.
"Not too many guys gave any stuff to Nestor," Mr. Fingers said. "If you did, he'd run you in a heartbeat."
Mr. Chylak was an American League umpire from 1954 through 1978, working five World Series, six All-Star Games, and three League Championship Series. He served as crew chief for 14 years and was the assistant supervisor of AL umpires for three years before he died.
He was welcomed into the Hall by many players who shared the field with him during his career.
"I just thought he was an excellent umpire," said Harmon Killebrew, who reached the big leagues the same season as Mr. Chylak and hit 573 home runs during his career. "He was a good guy. If you treated him right he respected that, and I respected the way Nestor Chylak umpired."
Bob Chylak said his father would have been touched by the outpouring of support for his election to the Hall. He isn't so sure that Nestor would have felt as though he belonged.
However, in the eyes of Sue Chylak, Nestor's widow, Sunday was inevitable.
"For years, she would say, 'When Dad's elected to the Hall of Fame,' and the emphasis was on the word when," Bob Chylak said. "And I'd sit down and I'd say, 'Mom, the Hall of Fame is Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig and Ted Williams and legends like that. Even though Dad was a great umpire, I don't know. They really don't elect very many.'
"She would say, 'Don't worry, when it happens you'll see.' "
"I think anybody who ever played while Nestor umpired understood how much he loved the game and how much he loved people," said former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer. "I wish he was here in person. It's great to be nominated. It's great to be elected. Here's somebody that really deserved to have a chance to be here to realize that umpires are getting the respect they deserved."