Nestor Chylak
Hall of Fame Opens Door for Nestor Chylak

Olyphant Native Nestor Chylak Inducted into Hall of Fame

Bob Chylak talks of his father, the late Nestor Chylak Jr., at HOF.
Butch Comegys/Tribune Staff Photographer

Bob Chylak talks of his father, the late Nestor Chylak Jr., at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

A day in the sun
By Mike Crist

Tribune Staff Writer

Cooperstown, N.Y. - Bob Chylak used the occasion of his father's induction to the Baseball of Fame to teach us all a valuable lesson.

Beth Chylak gets a hug from Sue Chylak, her grandmother.
Butch Comegys/Tribune Staff Photographer

Beth Chylak, 7, gets a hug from Sue Chylak, her grandmother, during induction ceremony.

A fan checks out display case honoring the 1999 inductees.
Todd Phillips, of Brookville, Ind., checks out the display case honoring the 1999 inductees.

   Listen to your mother.

   During his induction speech before the largest crowd in Hall of Fame history Sunday (July 25, 1999), Bob Chylak said that his mother, Sue, always believed that her husband would one day join the greats of the game.

   Her prediction - and her family's dream - came true when Nestor Chylak, a native of Olyphant who died in 1982, became the eight umpire in Major League Baseball history to be enshrined at the Hall of Fame.

   "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 Gehrig 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.' "

   Actually, more than 50,000 people saw it happen 

live and millions more heard about Chylak on television.

   Nestor Chylak, an American League umpire from 1954-78, was invited into the Hall along with George Brett, Nolan Ryan and Robin Yount, three players who began their careers while Mr. Chylak was in the midst of his.

A look at Nestor Chylak's display case at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

A look at Nestor Chylak's display case at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. 

Matthew Chylak, Nestor's grandson, snaps off a picture. Nestor's widow, Sue, is at right.
Matthew Chylak, 8, Nestor's grandson, snaps off a picture as his father, Bob, delivers the induction speech.  Nestor's widow, Sue, listens closely at right.

   Former major-league player Orlando Cepeda, former manager Frank Selee and Negro league star Joe Williams were also part of the Class of 1999.  All of them like Mr. Chylak, were selected for the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

   Like Mr. Chylak, Mr. Selee and Mr. Williams were inducted posthumously.

   That brought to 244 the total number of players, managers and other contributors whose bronze plaques grace the Hall of Fame museum. 

   His umpiring mask, ball-strike indicator, brush, chest protector, jacket, pants, shirt, tie, shoes and cap were on display Sunday in the New Inductees exhibit at the Hall.  They were mixed in with memorabilia from Ryan's seven no-hitters and items from the long careers of Brett and Yount.

     Bob Chylak, 41, said that all of that would have been of secondary importance to his father.  Nestor Chylak would have cared more about the opinion of his peers.

   "Ted Williams once named him the best ever, and he was really proud of that," Bob Chylak said.  "Yogi (Berra) recently called Nestor a real baseball guy.  I think that would have been the ultimate compliment for him."

Some of the other inductees...

George BrettGeorge Brett,
46, had 3,154 hits and batted .305 in a 21-year career with Kansas City.
Crying, Brett looked at his older brothers also both ballplayers during his induction speech and said, "All I ever wanted to do was be as good as you."
Nolan RyanNolan Ryan,
53, played 27 seasons and holds or shares 51 major league marks, including seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts.  "I always thought there was going to be life after baseball," he said.  "I didn't realize the grip baseball had on me."
Robin YountRobin Yount,
43, was a two-time AL MVP - at shortstop and centerfield - with 3,142 hits in a 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers.  "With all due respect, Mr. Gehrig, today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," he said.

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