The new class of Hall of Fame inductees includes Anthony Candelino of Elizabeth, Ben Candelino of Elizabeth, Dom Guida of Summit, and Bill Howard of Berkeley Heights, who are being recognized for their outstanding contributions to our national pastime on the baseball diamonds of Union County.
Ben Candelino played his youth baseball in the Elizabeth and St. Anthony’s little league programs before becoming a three-year starter for St. Mary’s. He was selected by the Newark Star-Ledger and the Elizabeth Daily Journal as the All-Union County second baseman in his junior and senior years in high school.
In his senior year, Ben was a First Team All-State player and led all Union County hitters with a .458 average. As a junior, he led St. Mary’s of the Assumption to an 18-6 record and an appearance in the State Sectional final.
Ben played in the Union County Baseball League for the Elizabeth Braves and legendary coach John Sampson for seven years, receiving the MVP award in 1979. He moved on to play three seasons with the Union Rockets in the Essex County League, helping them to win the State’s Tournament of Champions.
While Ben is probably best known for his coaching abilities at Elizabeth High, guiding the Minutemen to numerous Group 4 and Union County Tournament championships, and four successful trips to the Tournament of Champions, he also was a successful coach at his alma mater. In 1981, the Hilltoppers were Union County Tournament finalists and they won a state title in 1983.
Ben Candelino currently works in the Elizabeth school system and he is a member of the Elizabeth Hall of Fame.
Anthony Candelino got his start in baseball in Elizabeth, playing in the St. Anthony’s Little League, the North Elizabeth Little League, and on St. Anthony’s Parochial Team. He started his high school career at St. Mary’s, where he led his team to the Parochial B State Championship and was selected to the 1st Team All-Parochial and 3rd Team All-Union County.
Anthony then transferred to Elizabeth High School where he blossomed into one of the finest athletes in Union County. In 1984, he was 1st Team All-County, 3rd Team All-State, and 1st Team All-Group IV. In 1985, he led the team in hitting and home runs, and helped the Minutemen win the Union County Tournament and the North Jersey Group 4 State Championship. He was selected 1st Team All-County, 1st Team All-State, 1st Team All-Daily News, and Honorable Mention All-American.
The Montreal Expos drafted Anthony in the fourth round after his senior year at Elizabeth High School (the 88th player selected overall) and he played with the Jamestown Expos for two seasons. He was traded to the New York Mets in 1988, but a shoulder injury ended his career.
Anthony holds the Elizabeth High School record for home runs and runs batted in. Besides his baseball prowess, Anthony was an All-State basketball player who earned a basketball scholarship to Marquette University, where he started at point guard in his freshman year. Currently, Anthony is a successful businessman/restaurateur in Jacksonville, Florida.
The 73rd Annual Hot Stove League Baseball Dinner begins at 1 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the L’Affaire Banquet Center, 1099 Route 22 East, Mountainside. The dinner is sponsored by the Union County Baseball Association, in cooperation with the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal. Tickets are $40 and may be obtained by calling (908) 789-3686.