Nestor Chylak
Hall of Fame Opens Door for Nestor Chylak

The man
behind
the mask


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 wear glasses.
   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 school spokesman.
   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 teams played.
   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. Butler wrote.
   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.  

 

Nestor in the International League

Nestor and an opposing manager jaw during an International League game involving the Montreal Royals.   Nestor, who had a reputation for listening to complaints about calls without losing his cool, never said anything bad about a player, his friends and fellow umps said.

 

1953 - Joe Paparella congratulates Nestor Chylak.

"Nice going, neighbor, and best wishes for a long, successful and happy career as an umpire in the American League," Joe Paparella, left said to Nestor in 1953 when Chylak was promoted to the AL.  The two umpires were Mid-Valley neighbors and lifelong friends.   They lived less than a half mile from each other in Peckville.

 

Nestor speaks at a local banquet.

Nestor seldom said no to a civic group that asked him to speak at its banquet.  If the banquet was out of town, he touched on Scranton, which he said was a place where the kids "still know how to say 'thank you.' "  "He was a goodwill ambassador for the area," his friend Chet Zielinski said.

 

1960 World Series.

Nestor signals out at second base during the 1960 World Series, the first of five World Series he was assigned to work.  Former Baltimore Sun baseball writer Bob Maisel and others said Nestor always hustled to position himself to make the right call.

 

 

 

Nestor Chylak Jr. HOF plaque.

A Nestor Chylak autograph.

 

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