Anyone want to take a guess where John Candelaria is from? That’s right …Brooklyn , New York. He was a hard throwing left handed pitcher who 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. He was nicknamed the Candy Man.
Candelaria had his best season in 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. On August 9, 1976, Candelaria no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 at Three Rivers Stadium; it was the first no-hitter pitched by a Pirate in Pittsburgh since Nick Maddox at Exposition Park in 1907. Candelaria’s second post-season appearance with the Pirates (he pitched Game 3 in the 1975 NLCS) 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, who stood 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and wielded a mid- to upper-90s fastball with natural movement, remained an effective starter for the Pirates through the 1984 season.Candelaria was moved to the bullpen in 1985. He posted nine saves out of the Pittsburgh bullpen, which ended up being a team high on a 57-win team. In early August, the team traded Candelaria to the California Angels. 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 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 in Pittsburgh in 1993, making him the only Pirates player from the 1979 team to play for the Pirates during their twenty consecutive losing seasons.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday spotlights…John “The Candy Man” Candelaria.
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