November 6, 1953 |
Brooklyn, New York
|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|June 8, 1975 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 7, 1993 for the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Earned run average||3.33|
|Career highlights and awards|
John Robert Candelaria (born November 6, 1953) is a retired Major League Baseball pitcher. Nicknamed "The Candy Man," he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, California Angels, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1975–1993.
Prior to joining the Pirates, "Candy" played center for the Quebradillas Pirates in Puerto Rico. Known as a basketball player in Puerto Rico, when he announced he was leaving the Quebradillas basketball "Pirates" for the Pittsburgh Pirates many were skeptical. The local newspaper featured him pitching a basketball in the front page of the sports section. He had attended La Salle Academy in lower Manhattan and gained fame as a basketball center, including leading his team to a championship in 1971.
Candelaria pitched to a 177–122 career record with a 3.33 ERA. His best season was 1977 when he was 20–5 with a 2.34 ERA in 230.2 innings pitched, and he was a member of the 1979 World Series champion Pirates team. He pitched a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 9, 1976. This was the first no hitter pitched by a Pirate in Pittsburgh. Candelaria's only post-season appearance with the Pirates came in their World Series championship season of 1979. Candelaria started Game 1 of the 1979 NLCS and pitched seven innings of two-run ball against the Reds with a painful shoulder. The Pirates won the game 5-2 in 11 innings. In the 1979 World Series, Candelaria had a rough Game 3, giving up five runs in 4 innings as the Pirates lost 8-4 to the Orioles. Candelaria redeemed himself in a crucial Game 6 by combining with Kent Tekulve to pitch a 4-0 shutout.
Candelaria remained an effective starter for the Pirates through the 1984 season, but was moved to the bullpen in 1985. He handled the change well, posting nine saves, which ended up being a team high on a 57-win team. However, the Pirates were looking to get younger (having already dealt off established stars such as Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, Tony Pena, and Kent Tekulve) and, having to deal with the pending Pittsburgh drug trials that nearly bankrupt the team, dealt Candelaria to the California Angels in mid-season. At the time, he was the last Pirate that remained from the 1979 championship team. The Angels immediately made him a starter again and he went 7-3 down the stretch in 1985 and helped the Angels into the 1986 ALCS with a 10-2 record.
Candelaria stood 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and wielded a mid- to upper-90's fastball with spectacular natural movement. One veteran Dodger scout who witnessed 15-year-old Candelaria at a tryout called him the best he had ever seen. The tryout catcher had to be replaced with a major league catcher for fear of injuring the stand-in. By the account of this same scout, Candelaria was in line to sign with the Dodgers before he appeared at a later tryout wearing a shirt that featured a marijuana leaf with the caption "try some, you'll like it." The Dodger executives at the tryout were so appalled by this lighthearted display that they declined to sign him.
Candelaria played for both New York teams (Mets and Yankees), both Los Angeles teams (Dodgers and Angels) and both Canadian teams (Blue Jays and Expos). He finished his career where it began in Pittsburgh in 1993, making him the only Pirates player that played on the 1979 World Championship team as well as play for the Pirates during their twenty consecutive losing seasons.
Life after baseball
Candelaria currently lives in Davidson, North Carolina, and is an avid world traveler. John has a nephew, Zac Candelaria, who is currently a catcher at the Division One program of Fairfield University. 
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
Blue Moon Odom & Francisco Barrios
August 9, 1976
|AL Comeback Player of the Year