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Nestor Chylak

Position: Umpire

Nestor Chylak (1922-82), the eighth umpire elected to the Hall of Fame, was the dean of umpires of the American League during the later years of his career. He was proud of his technical ability as an arbiter, but he was also a superb teacher, helping new umps, such as Dave Phillips, learn the ropes. Of his mentor, Phillips said, "[Nestor] ate and lived umpiring."

In World War II, Chylak saw action in the Battle of the Bulge. Gene Karst tells the story in telegraphic style in Who's Who in Professional Baseball: "Badly shot up in WWII Battle of the Bulge, spent many months in Veterans Hospital. After getting out, money didn't last long and wound up broke. Ran into friend who offered him a chance to umpire a college game. 'I got enough troubles,' replied Chylak. 'People hate umpires. Who wants to be an umpire?'"

Chylak umped six years in the minors, including the Junior World Series, the annual championship between the top Triple-A teams, in 1953. He then jumped to the majors.

During his 24-year career, Chylak worked three American League Championship Series and five World Series--1957, '60, '66, '71, and '77. He was the home plate umpire for Game 1 of the latter two Series. Said Commissioner Bud Selig at Chylak's Hall of Fame induction in 1999: "He combined authority, tact, and a sense of humor."

Chylak's son, accepting the award on behalf of his late father, remembered a Ted Williams comment after a messy play in a World Series game. Williams said that Chylak should umpire every single World Series. Nestor's son called his dad "decisive, consistent, authoritative, and unflappable." He also said that Dad was proud that he never threw Earl Weaver out of a game.

Chylak's worst nightmare occurred during a game in Cleveland on June 14, 1974, when the Indians played the Texas Rangers on the now-notorious "10 Cent Beer Night." In retrospect, it's hard to imagine a more ill-conceived way to get fans into your ballpark. With many hooligans waving a $5 bill at the concession stand and ordering 50 beers at a time, bedlam was almost inevitable.

Before long, fans were chasing each other around the field, oblivious to the game (and most everything else). Chylak received a cut wrist during one outbreak. The players were terrified. Nestor was able to restore a semblance of order for a while, but when two fans got into a fight near the pitcher's mound, he declared a forfeit and ended the insanity.

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