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Baseball Legends: Nestor Chylak (Umpire 1954-1978)

August 24, 2008

“Ballplayers will cheat under any circumstances if they think they can get away with it. Our job is to prevent it.”

 

Nestor Chylak began his umpiring career in 1946, after World War II had ended. He had served in the Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. While fighting that battle, he nearly lost his sight, when shrapnel from an exploding shell wounded him. During his service in the Army, he was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

 

He started umpiring in the Pony League. He moved to the Canadian-American League in 1950, followed by the International League in 1952 and reached the American League in 1954. His career included many different highlights and firsts. He umpired in the first ALCS game in 1969. Then went on to umpire in the 1972 and 1973 ALCS games, serving as crew chief in two out of three series.
 

He also worked in six All-Star games and five World Series. Among the most notable World Series games was the seventh game of the 1977 series, in which he was behind the plate.

 

During his career, he worked such gems as Sandy Koufax’s last game in the 1966 World Series. He also was the home plate umpire during the first game in Toronto, in 1977, against the White Sox, in the middle of a snowstorm.

 

Nestor had to call two notable forfeits in his career. One, during his umpiring days, was declared a forfeit when the crowd, on “10 Cent Beer Night” (June 4, 1974) in Cleveland, got unruly. Fighting, among the spectators, spilled out onto the field, where Nestor was hit over the head with a chair.

 

Nestor retired from umpiring in 1978 and became an assistant league supervisor of umpires. It was during this part of his career, where he had to call another notable forfeit on July 12, 1979. When a demonstration by a local disc jockey, during the intermission between games resulted in a riot, Chylak insisted that the second game would not be played. This is now known as the infamous Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park. White Sox owner Bill Veeck protested, but American League president Lee MacPhail upheld Nestor’s decision and awarded the second game in the Tigers favor.

 

Upon his death in 1982, of a heart attack, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn said, “Few have ever been more respected in his field. Everyone looked up to him, and I developed more respect every time I saw him in a World Series or All-Star Game.”

 

Chylak was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, by the Veterans Committee.

 

See Chylak’s page at baseball-reference.com


Written by Steve G. at whitesoxcards.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Correction: “He also worked in six All-Star games and five World Series. Among the most notable World Series games was the seventh game of the 1977 series, in which he was behind the plate.”

    1977 World Series only went six games.



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