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.

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Future Legends: Ken Griffey, Jr. (Mariners 1989-1999, Reds 2000-2008, White Sox 2008-present)

June 10, 2008

“If I’m compared to Babe Ruth or Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jrthat’s great. But I’m just going to go out there and be myself.” ~ Ken Griffey, Jr.

Ken Griffey, Jr. is one of the most charismatic baseball players ever to put on a major league uniform. Beginning his career in Seattle in 1989 as a 19-year old phenom, “The Kid” was immediately a national superstar. He finished his rookie season with 16 home runs and a .264 average in 127 games, then followed that with three straight seasons of 20+ home runs and a .300+ average. In 1993, Junior really took off, smacking 45 balls out of the park, just one less than Juan Gonzalez. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, he led the American League with 40 home runs, and two years later came up one short of 50 in 1996. Read the rest of this entry »


Baseball Legends: Sandy Koufax (Dodgers 1955-1966)

June 8, 2008

“Pitching is the art of instilling fear.” — Sandy Koufax

Sandford “Sandy” Koufax is arguably the best pitcher baseball has ever seen. As Casey Stengel once said, “Forget the other guy (Walter Johnson) Sandy Koufax for four years was the best pitcher in baseball. Whether Koufax at his peak was the most dominating pitcher ever is debatable, but he definitely was the most artful Dodger — graceful, with body arching through his long stride, his overhand delivery would fool batters with pitches that could be heard, but not seen. Stengel also remarked that ”umpires often can’t see where Koufax pitches go, so they have to judge from the sound of them hitting the catcher’s glove.” Read the rest of this entry »


Baseball Legends: Willie McCovey (Giants 1959-1973, 1977-1980, Padres 1974-1976, A’s 1976)

May 18, 2008

He may not be the most famous Giant, but Willie McCovey deserves a great deal of consideration when talking about the greatest players in baseball history. Overshadowed throughout most of his career by the other Willie on his team, McCovey was a true team player and rose above any petty bickering or bitter jealousy that may have eaten away at a lesser man. Read the rest of this entry »


Baseball Legends: Nolan Ryan (Mets 1966, 1968-1971, Angels 1972-1979, Astros 1980-1988, Rangers 1989-1993)

May 17, 2008

“One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” ~ Nolan Ryan

Prove something is what Nolan Ryan did with his entire career. It’s difficult to decide what is most impressive: his seven career no-hitters (three more than any other pitcher), or his 5714 strikeouts (over 1000 more than the runner-up). Or perhaps the power with which he pitched, even after reaching the age of 40. The longevity of Ryan’s career–a major-league record 27 years–is also astounding. In fact, there isn’t much about the pitcher that one could say was not impressive. Read the rest of this entry »


Baseball Legends: Roy Campanella (Dodgers 1948-1957)

May 15, 2008

“I never want to quit playing ball. They’ll have to cut this uniform off of me to get me out of it.” — Roy Campanella

Roy Campanella, known as “Campy”, is considered by many to be one of the best catchers ever to play baseball. While still in school at the age of just 15, he played on weekends for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro National League. He was MVP of the 1941 East-West all-star game, then jumped to the Mexican League in 1942 and 1943. He came back to the Giants and led the league in doubles in 1944 and in RBIs in 1945. Read the rest of this entry »


Baseball Legends: Hazen Shirley “Kiki” Cuyler (Pirates 1921-1927, Cubs 1928-1935, Reds 1935-1937, Dodgers 1938)

May 15, 2008

An outstanding hitter and the fastest player in the NL in his prime, KiKi Cuyler reached the majors in 1921 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was a regular in the lineup in 1924, when he hit .354. In 1922, he hit .357 with 45 doubles, 26 triples, 18 homers, 102 RBIs, 144 runs scored, and 41 stolen bases.

In the 1925 World Series against the Washington Senators, he had a game-winning home run in the second game, and in game seven his 2-run double in the 8th defeated Walter Johnson and Washington 9 to 7, making it the only time in his career he would be part of a championship team. Read the rest of this entry »


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