Indians Fans – Don’t Forget Candy on Halloween
Bob Toth | On 31, Oct 2017
While trying to compose a lineup of all-time Cleveland Indians players with names worthy of Halloween, I quickly realized that such a task was going to prove difficult.
While there were butchers (Hank Butcher, John Butcher) and doctors (Doc Edwards, Doc Gooden), Danny Graves, and even one Mysterious Walker, compiling a list left me far too short of completing a worthy lineup.
But it also reminded me of one important thing about Halloween – don’t forget Candy.
Six different players named Candy have suited up at the big league level over the years, beginning with Candy Cummings (real name William Arthur Cummings), a pitcher who played from 1872 to 1877 with five different teams (none in Cleveland) in the National Association and the National League who would later enter the Hall of Fame as a pioneer/executive of the game in 1939 via Old Timers Committee selection. In a much different era, he put up some eye-popping numbers, including his rookie season with the New York Mutuals in 1872 at the age of 23 when he went 33-20 with 55 starts, 53 complete games, and 497 innings pitched. His best season would come in 1875 with the Hartford Dark Blues, when he went 35-12 with a 1.60 ERA in 48 games, striking out a league-best 82 batters and walking just four for a 20.5 strikeout/walk rate. He is sometimes credited as the first pitcher to throw a curveball and tried to defend his claim in August of 1908 with his piece “How I Pitched the First Curve” in Baseball Magazine.
The first Candy in Cleveland, however, was Candy LaChance (real name George Joseph LaChance), born conveniently on Valentine’s Day in 1870 in Putnam, Connecticut. He spent six seasons in the National League from 1893 to 1898 with the Brooklyn Grooms/Bridegrooms and one more in the NL with the Baltimore Orioles in 1899 before coming to Cleveland. In 1900, he played for the minor league Cleveland Lake Shores of the American League (before the league became a major league rival to the NL). LaChance stayed in Cleveland in 1901, appearing in 133 games for the Blues while hitting .303.
He later spent four seasons with the Boston Americans before bouncing around the Eastern League and the Connecticut State League.
Candy Maldonado (real name Candido Maldonado Guadarrama) is a far more recent representative for the Indians, joining the club in 1990 after showing some consistent pop for the San Francisco Giants. He made his big league debut in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and spent five years with the club before he was traded to the Giants. Four years there included his first 20-homer season in 1987 and back-to-back 85-RBI seasons in 1986 and ’87.
He signed with the Indians for the 1990 season and put up career-best numbers across the stat sheet. He appeared in a career-high 155 games for the club as a corner outfielder and designated hitter and put up personal bests in hits (161), doubles (32), homers (22), RBI (95), and walks (49), but also struck out 45 more times than he had in any one season.
Maldonado was on the move after one year with the Tribe, splitting the 1991 season between Milwaukee and Toronto before spending the 1992 season with the Blue Jays, when he made his sixth trip to the playoffs and second to the World Series. He began the 1993 season in Chicago with the Cubs, but was dealt to the Indians in August of that season for Glenallen Hill. He would hit .247 in the final 28 games that season and just .196 in 42 games in 1994 before the strike. His big league career ended in 1995, with time spent between Toronto and Texas.
His son of the same name was selected in 46th round of the 2006 draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but he did not play professionally.
One also cannot leave out the Candy Man, Tom Candiotti. A veteran of 16 Major League seasons, Candiotti spent seven of those years in an Indians uniform.
He debuted in the Majors in 1983, spending two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers while also spending time back in the minors. He signed with the Indians following the 1985 season and turned into a quality knuckleball specialist in the game. He won a career-high 16 games for Cleveland in his first season with the Indians in 1986 while leading the American League with 17 complete games. He struggled, as did his teammates, in 1987, but he bounced back with three more strong seasons for the Tribe from 1988 to 1990.
He was off to another strong start in 1991, posting a 7-6 record through 15 starts with three complete games and a 2.24 ERA when the Blue Jays came calling again for his services. A free agent to be following the season, the Indians attempted to bulk up their outfield options for the future, sending Candiotti and outfielder Turner Ward to Toronto for pitcher Denis Boucher, outfielders Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten, and cash considerations. He appeared in his first postseason games that year for the Blue Jays, going 0-1 in two starts against the Minnesota Twins in the American League Championship Series.
Candiotti left Toronto after the season via free agency, signing after less than a month on the market with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would spend six years at Chavez Ravine, making his way back to the playoffs in 1996 with the club. He left for Oakland following the 1997 season and spent a season and a half with the A’s before a midseason release in 1999. The Indians signed him less than two weeks later, using him twice as a starter and five times in relief before his release on August 2.
Even Cleveland’s early Negro League franchises were represented by Candy on the field. Candy Jim Taylor (real name James Allen Taylor) worked as a player-manager of the Cleveland Tate Stars in 1921 (an independent Negro League team) and 1922 (in the Negro National League) and would take over the managerial duties of the new Cleveland Nationals team in 1923, but that team disbanded and merged with the Toledo Tigers. Taylor took over as player-manager there, but the team folded due to financial issues in July. He would return to Cleveland in 1926 with the Cleveland Elites in his final stint in the city in a baseball career that spanned more than 40 years.
Photo: Rick Stewart/Stringer