OTD in 1976, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher John Candelaria becomes the 2nd Pirate in team history to throw a no-hitter, when his Pirates shutout the Dodgers 2-0 at Three Rivers Stadium. Candelaria, given the nickname “Candy Man,” walks only 1 and strikes out 7. The Dodgers lineup featured Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Dusty Baker, and Bill Buckner — a Dodgers team that finished 2nd in the NL West in 1976, equaling the NL East Pirates with 92 wins.
Candelaria’s professional baseball career started in 1972, when the Pirates drafted the Brooklyn, NY native in the 2nd round of MLB’s amateur draft. Pittsburgh assigned Candelaria in 1973 to their Class-A affiliate in Charleston, SC. In John’s first season, with the Charleston Pirates of the Western Carolinas League, Candelaria pitched in 18 games (17 starts) and posted a 3.79 ERA while winning 10 games and only losing 2. In 1974, John was assigned to the Salem Pirates (Salem, VA) of the Carolina League, where he would post an 11-8 record with a 3.68 ERA in 25 games.
In 1975, his rookie year with the Major League club, Candelaria was 8-6 with a 2.76 ERA for the Pirates in 18 games. John’s best season came in 1977, when he won the NL ERA title with a 2.34 ERA and won 20 games against just 5 losses, also leading the NL in Winning Percentage. By June in 1977, Candelaria held a 7-4 record with a 2.05 ERA — which earned him his only All-Star Game selection during his 19-year MLB career. John’s MLB career totaled 177 wins in 600 games (356 starts) to go with a career 3.33 ERA. He won a WS ring with the 1979 Pirates. Candelaria ranks 4th all-time for the Pirates in strikeouts with 1,159 behind Bob Friend, Bob Veale, and Wilbur Cooper. For the modern stat trackers, Candelaria ranks #1 all-time for the Pirates in Win Probability Added (WPA) with 13.5, ahead of 2nd place Kent Tekulve’s 13.2.
Candelaria currently resides in Davidson, NC.
Box score of the August 9, 1976 No-Hitter: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT197608090.shtml
Video highlights (via Facebook) of the No-Hitter: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10154240099152931