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‘Candy Man’ likes Pirates’ chances

August 16, 2013
By KIM NORTH - Times Leader Sports Writer ( , Times Leader

The celebrity golf classic in the memory of Jeff Showalter draws a diverse cross-section of former professional and college athletes.

Such was the case Wednesday afternoon when some 30 celebrities showed up at Belmont Hills Country Club to compete in the 9th annual event, which is presented by the Ohio Valley Christian Soldiers.

The star-studded group was basically split between ex-baseball and football players, with a former Olympic basketball player and world champion kickboxer joining the mix.

Article Photos

Brock Woods, left, and John “Candy Man” Candelaria pose during Wednesday’s Showalter Celebrity Golf Tournament at Belmont Hills Country Club.

Representing the baseball world were former Pittsburgh Pirates John "The Candy Man" Candelaria; Ricky Clelland, a member of the final graduating class at Buckeye North High School in 1990 who played in the Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Dodgers minor leagues; Todd Erdos, a Meadville, Pa., native who earned a pair of World Series rings with the New York Yankees; David Lee, who played for the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians; and Claudio Reilsono, head coach at Carnegie Mellon University and a longtime scout.

Candelaria, who was considered one of baseball's best "money" pitchers during his 18-year career, shared feelings about the current edition of the Pirates.

"I think they're playing great. I'm happy for the organization, the team and the city," he said. "I'm sure there's been a lot of frustration over the last 20 years, but it's good to see them playing well."

When asked if he thought the Pirates can sustain their momentum and make the playoffs, he replied, "It's the dog days of August ... I'll put it that way. I hope they can make the playoffs.

"Their pitching has been good. That's what gets you there," he continued. "We'll see how they do and how the pressure of being in a pennant chase affects them the last six weeks."

A lanky lefty who only had one losing season from 1975-88 and hurled the Pirates' first no-hitter in 1976, Candelaria offered these thoughts on current Pirates' All-Star southpaw Jeff Locke.

"I haven't seen the young man pitch but once or twice because I live in North Carolina," he admitted.

"But what I've seen is that he moves the ball well, keeps it down, changes speed well and pitches inside, which is definitely what you have to do in today's game because the hitters like the ball out over the plate."

Could he have been successful pitching in PNC Park?

"I would have loved it. I had a guy in centerfield like Cutch in Omar Moreno who could just go get it, but PNC Park would've been a lot better for me than Three Rivers Stadium because the way the outfield is from center over to left."

Candelaria, who set a NLCS record with 14 strikeouts in game three in 1975, is one of the celebrities who comes back to St. Clairsville every year for the Showalter.

"For the people here who are very nice, and for the charity," he stressed. "It's just a good feeling to try and help out those in need."

For the record, the "Candy Man" only brought one club with him for the tournament, that being his driver. He was paired with former Wheeling Thunderbird and Wheeling Nailer Brock Woods.

North can be reached at



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