Key dates in Nestor Chylak's Career
1922 - Nestor George Chylak Jr. is born May 11 in Peckville to
Nestor George Chylak Sr. and former Nellie Shipskie, both children of
Ukrainian immigrants. The family lives in Olyphant. The name
Nestor is taken from the Greek word for traveler or wisdom.
1939 - Nestor graduates from Olyphant High School.
1939-40 - Attends the University of Scranton.
1945 - On Jan. 3, chunks of a tree smash
into his face during the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German
campaign of World War II. For 10 days, Army Master Sgt. Nestor
Chylak Jr. lies with his face in bandages and can't see. His
vision returns. Unlike the rest of his family, he never had to
1946 - Starts calling games in the NEP
(Northeastern Pennsylvania) League, an amateur league.
1946-47 - Returns to the University of
Scranton, but leaves after the fall semester of 1947, according to a
1947 - Starts umpiring in the State
League, but is hired for his first professional job in the PONY League
in July. The PONY League is a Class D minor league. Its
initials stand for Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, which is where its
1949 - Spends 16 days umpiring in the
Canadian-American League, a Class C league, and the rest of the season
in the Class B, New England League.
1950 - Eastern League President
Thomas Richardson hires Nestor for his league, which is Double-A.
Nestor spends the 1951 season there, too.
1952 - Hired to work in the Triple-A
International League. Spends 1953 in the IL and umpires the
1953 Little World Series between Kansas City of the American Association
and Montreal of the International League. 1954
- Umpires his first game in the major leagues on April 14 in Washington.
The Senators beat the New York Yankees, 5-3. Legendary Hall
of Fame umpire Bill McGowan is his crew chief. Peckville's Joe
Paparella is also in his crew. The other member is Jim Honochick,
who years later would become famous as the blind umpire in a beer
commercial with former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Boog Powell.
1957 - Umpires his first World Series,
which is played Oct. 2-10. The Milwaukee Braves defeat the New
York Yankees in seven games as Hank Aaron homers three times and has 11
hits and Braves first baseman Frank Torre, Joe's brother, homers twice.
The umpiring crew includes Mr. Paparella, who works Games 1 and 5 behind
the plate. Nestor splits time between the left and right fields,
but does not work a base. The Yankees first baseman at times is
Scranton native Joe Collins.
1960 - Umpires his second and third
All-Star Games on July 11 and 13. From 1959 to 1962, Major League
Baseball staged two All-Star Games. The National League won
both in 1960, the first 5-3 in Kansas City, the second 6-0 in Yankee
Stadium. Stan Musial and Ken Boyer homer in both.
1960 - Umpires the plate and bases in his
first World Series between Oct. 5-13. In a dramatic finish to Game
7, Pirates catcher Hal Smith smacks a three-run homer in the bottom of
the eight to put the Bucs up, 9-7. The Yanks tie in the top of the
ninth. But Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski finishes off the
Yankees with a homer in the home half. Nestor works the plate in
Game 5, a 3-2 Pirates win. In its annual survey of players, The
Sporting News votes Nestor one of the game's best umps that year.
Players love his consistent strike zone and compliment his hustle.
1964 - Umpires his fourth All-Star Game on
July 7 at Shea Stadium, which opened that year in New York. The
National League rallies for four runs in the bottom of the ninth to win
7-4, winning on a three-run homer by the Phillies Johnny Callison.
1966 - Umpires his third World Series Oct.
5-9 as the Baltimore Orioles sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in four
games. In the second inning of Game 1, Wes Parker smacks a
stinging double off Nestor's foot as Nestor works first base.
Nestor is behind the plate for Game 2, a game the Dodgers lost 6-0
largely because of three Willie Davis errors in the fifth inning.
It was the last game ever pitched by the great Sandy Koufax.
Nestor later jokes about how Koufax quit because he didn't like his
umpiring. The late Scranton Times sports editor Joe M. Butler, who
covered the series, said at the time Nestor was masterful calling balls
and strikes. "He was the bossman all the way and few of
his ball and strike decisions drew any vocal dissatisfaction," Mr.
1969 - Umpires the first ever American
League play-off series. The Baltimore Orioles sweep the Minnesota
Twins in three games. The Twins are managed by former Yankees
second baseman Billy Martin, who is in his first year as a manager.
Nestor and Mr. Martin were good friends. "Billy Martin
worshiped Nestor," Nestor's brother Eugene Chylak, said. The
Orioles lose the World Series to the Miracle Mets.
1971 - Umpires his fourth World Series,
Oct. 9-17, which includes the first night game in series history, Game
4. Nestor works the first and seventh games behind the plate.
John Rice, who also umped that series, later tells writer John Skipper
that Nestor predicted problems with games in Pittsburgh because newly
opened Three Rivers Stadium didn't have foul poles. Sure enough,
in Game 4, Roberto Clemente hit a shot to right field. It was
close, but Mr. Rice calls it a foul ball. Pittsburgh players
and fans erupt in protest. Pirates win the game anyway and the
series, 4-3. Nestor, a weekly church goer, attends Mass at a
Baltimore church the morning before umpiring Game 7.
1972 - Umpires second American League
playoff series as Oakland A's defeat the Detroit Tigers in five games.
In Game 2, Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow plunks A's shortstop Bert
Campaneris on the leg and Campaneris tosses his bat at the young
pitcher. Nestor, who was behind the plate, grabbed Mr. Campaneris
to restrain him from charging the mound. He throws out the
shortstop and the pitcher. The debate rages to this day as to
whether Mr. Martin ordered Mr. LaGrow to throw at Mr. Campaneris, who
was running wild on the Tigers before the plunking. Nestor
was also behind the plate for the deciding game. Oakland goes on
to win the first of three consecutive World Series.
1973 - Umpires his fifth All-Star Game,
his second in Kansas City, on July 24. The National League wins
7-1 as a record 54 players get in the game.
1973 - Umpires his third American League
playoff series as Oakland defeats Baltimore in five games and goes on to
win its second straight World Series.
June 4, 1974 - 10-Cent Beer Night at
Cleveland's Municipal Stadium produces one of baseball's blackest days
as the crowd of 25,134 spills onto the field in the ninth inning and
riots. During the melee, someone hits Nestor over the head with a
chair. The game between the Indians and the Texas Rangers was tied
at the time. Nestor forfeits the game to the Rangers.
"We went as far as we could go, but you can't pull back
uncontrollable beasts. The last time I saw animals like that was
in a zoo." Not long after, Nestor visits the Moosic bar of
his friend, Chet Zielinski. Behind the bar, Mr. Zielinski hung a
banner that read: "Stroh's 10-Cent Beer Night, Nestor Chylak,
Umpire." "He just stands right there and shakes his head
with a big smile," Mr. Zielinski said.
1977 - Umpires his fifth World Series Oct.
11-18 as the New York Yankees defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in six
games. Reggie Jackson slugs five homers, including three in Game
6. In Game 1, Nestor finds himself in the midst of controversy
after calling Dodger first baseman Steve Garvey out at home plate.
The Yands wind up winning the game, 4-4. New York Mets pitcher Tom
Seaver, ABC's color analyst for the series, questions the accuracy of
the call, saying Nestor was out of position and earns praise for
criticizing Nestor. Nestor tells The New York Times' Dave Anderson
that Garvey was clearly out: "He was tagged before he came to the
ground with his front foot in his slide and I was not out of position to
call it," he said.
1978 - Umpires sixth All-Star Game, which
is played in San Diego, on July 11. The National League wins 7-3.
1978 - Takes ill in Toronto on July 23 and
never works another game. Oakland beats the Blue Jays, 5-3, the
same score as in his first major-league game.
1979-1981 - Nestor works as an assistant
to umpiring supervisor Dick Butler.
1982 - Nestor dies Feb. 17 in his Dunmore
home just before spring training is about to begin.
1999 - On March 2, the Hall of Fame
Veterans Committee nominates Nestor to the Hall of Fame. He will
join with major-league players George Brett, Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount,
Orlando Cepeda, Negro League pitcher Smokey Joe Williams and
turn-of-the-century manager Frank Selee. Newspapers give short
shrift to Williams, Selee and Nestor. It's probably the way Nestor
would have wanted it because friends say Nestor always thought umps
should stay in the background. On July 25, Nestor is inducted into
the Baseball Hall of Fame as family members and several busloads of
local fans look on.