John Robert Candelaria (born November 6, 1953 in New York, New York), nicknamed "The Candy Man," is a former professional 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. 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 stood 6'7" 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).
Life After BaseballEdit
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