Nicknamed, The Candy Man, John Candelaria, made his name pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late seventies, and as part of their championship team in 1979.
The 6-foot-7 left-hander won twenty games in 1977, leading the league with a 20-5 record and 2.34 ERA. He remained a steady pitcher for the Buccos, until 1985, when the team moved him to the bullpen after he failed to recapture the starting magic he demonstrated in ’77.
Disgruntled with management over his new role, the Angels were able to acquire him in a mid-season trade in 1985.
Energized by a change of scenery, the Candy Man went 7-3 with a 3.80 ERA to finish off the ’85 season. He would then become an integral part of the 1986 team that advanced to the American League Championship Series. He went 10-2 with a 2.55 ERA over 16 starts that year, with impressive 8.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 ratios. He made two starts against the Red Sox in the playoffs, allowing only one earned run over 10.2 innings of work.
The Sporting News named Candelaria the 1986 American League Comeback Player of the Year. After his superb ’86 campaign, the Angels traded him the following September to the Mets for minor leaguer Shane Young and Jeff Richardson.
Candelaria found a way to hang around in the big leagues until 1993 when he retired as a Pittsburgh Pirate at the age of 39.