Olyphant Native Nestor Chylak Inducted into Hall of Fame
Butch Comegys/Tribune Staff Photographer
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
N.Y. - Bob Chylak used the occasion of his father's
induction to the Baseball of Fame to teach us all a valuable
Comegys/Tribune Staff Photographer
gets a hug from Sue Chylak, her
grandmother, during induction ceremony.
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
live and millions more heard about Chylak on
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
A look at
Nestor Chylak's display case at the
Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
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
"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
Some of the other inductees...
46, had 3,154 hits and batted .305 in a 21-year career with
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."
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."
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.