Nestor Chylak
Hall of Fame Opens Door for Nestor Chylak

The Ultimate Honor
Olyphant's Nestor Chylak Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

Flanked by grandchildren Matthew Chylak, left, and William Chylak, Nestor Chylak's widow, Sue cheers as Nestor became just the 8th umpire to be inducted into the Baseball HOF.

Flanked by grandchildren Matthew Chylak, 8, left, and William Chylak, 5, Nestor Chylak's widow, Sue cheers Sunday (July 25, 1999) as Nestor became just the eight umpire to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bob Chylak, left, sits next to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
Bob Chylak, left, sits next to Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan as he waits to deliver his speech on behalf of his father, the late Nestor Chylak Jr.

Nestor Chylak Jr.'s display at the Baseball Hall of FameNestor Chylak Jr.'s display at the Baseball Hall of Fame includes the brush he used to clean home plate and the counter for balls and strikes.

By Mike Crist
The Scranton Times
July 26, 1999

Cooperstown, N.Y. The four living members of Baseball's Hall of Fame Class of 1999 all called it the culmination of a dream Sunday during the induction ceremonies.

   Imagine how Bob Chylak felt.

   For 3 long, hot, wondrous hours, the 41-year-old Newtown resident sat literally shoulder-to-shoulder with baseball greatness.  On his right, Orlando "the Baby Bull" Cepeda and his 379 career home runs, 1,365 RBIs and National League MVP Award.  To his right, Nolan Ryan and his 324 lifetime victories, seven no-hitters and major league record 5,714 strikeouts.

   In between sat Mr. Chylak, who never played pro ball and looks far younger than his years.  To an outsider, he must have looked like a party crasher.

   Turns out he was the life of the party.

Nestor Chylak Jr. HOF plaque.

"Few umpires clearly
stood out as being at
the top, but clearly
(Nestor) did."

Bob Chylak
Induction speech
for his father Nestor

   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.

Joe Williams

Robin Yount

George Brett

   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.

Rollie Fingers

   "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.

Harmon Killebrew

   "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.

Babe Ruth

Lou Gherig

Ted Williams

   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.'

Jim Palmer

   "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."

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