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Nestor Chylak

Hall of Famer Wounded in Combat


Date and Place of Birth: July 30, 1925 Bradford, MA
Date and Place of Death:    February 17, 1982 Dunmore, PA
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Umpire
Rank: Technical Sergeant
Military Unit: Company M, 424th Infantry Regiment, 106th Infantry Division US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Nestor L. Chylak, Jr., was born on May 11, 1922, in Olyphant, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Olyphant High School and studied engineering at Rutgers University - where he also played baseball - before entering military service with the Army on December 3, 1942.

Chylak trained as a US Army Ranger at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, before serving as a technical sergeant in the European Theater with the 424th Infantry Regiment, 106th Infantry Division. He almost lost his sight on January 3, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, when he was struck by shrapnel from an exploding German shell. He was in the hospital for eight weeks and doctors didn't know whether he would be able to see until they removed his bandages ten days after the operation.

Chylak made a full recovery and returned to the front line. He received the Silver Star and another wound before the war ended in Europe in May 1945.

Following his discharge, he attended St. Thomas University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to complete his engineering studies, and turned down the opportunity to umpire a college game until he learned it paid $25. So began a four-decade career in umpiring.

In 1947, he began his minor league career in the Class D PONY League. He moved up to the Canadian-American League in 1949, the Eastern League in 1950, and the International League 1952. Chylak was 30 years old when he made his major league debut as an American League umpire in 1954. In a 30-year career he umpired six All-Star games, three League Championship Series and five World Series. "This must be the only job in America that everybody knows how to do better than the guy who's doing it," he quipped.

"Nestor is one of the ultra, ultra good umpires," said Johnny Pesky. "And the players respond to him. He's a good hustler. He always seems to be at the right place at the right time."

Following a mild stroke, Chylak retired as an active umpire after the 1978 season, and became the American League's assistant supervisor of umpires.

"I umpired for 25 years and can honestly say I never called one wrong in my heart," he once recalled. "The way I see it, an umpire must be perfect on the first day of the season and then get better every day."

Nestor Chylak passed away at his home in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, on February 17, 1982. He was 59 years old and is buried at Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Cemetery in Peckville, Pennsylvania. He was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

"Few have ever been more respected in his field," said Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. "Everyone looked up to him, and I developed more respect every time I saw him in a World Series or All-Star Game."

Date Added December 24, 2017

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