BAKERSFIELD, CA – In a midseason shake-up, the Bakersfield Blaze have announced that Elizabeth Martin has chosen to resign her post as General Manager of the club, and current Assistant General Manager Mike Candela will be promoted to the organization’s top seat, effective immediately.
In a letter to staff and ownership, Martin wrote, “It is with a heavy heart that I need to tender my resignation as General Manager of the Blaze. I have an opportunity to practice law in San Jose that I cannot pass up…there are some amazingly talented and dedicated folks on the staff that deserve a lot of the credit for our small successes. I believe that this season will be a great year for the team.”
Over her tenure as General Manager, which began in late 2010, Martin became known for a strong-willed style that helped to turn a struggling Bakersfield franchise and run-down facility into what is once again the premier summer family destination in Bakersfield. Elizabeth oversaw the repainting of the Sam Lynn Ballpark grandstands and outfield wall, the rebuilding of four skyboxes, the paving of the parking lot, the construction of two new group seating zones (The Cool Zone in 2012 and new bigger Picnic Tent in 2015), and the addition of countless new ticket discounts and promotional nights. With the help of staff and ownership, Martin helped Blaze baseball to an increase in attendance in three straight seasons.
“Liz has done everything I could have ever asked of anyone as the GM of Bakersfield,” noted team owner D.G. Elmore. “She has always rolled with the punches, and she has always seen the glass as half full. Liz built fan excitement and improved the ballpark atmosphere more than anyone could have hoped, and that was a testament to her work ethic and her drive. I am sad to see her go, but she has done a great job in preparing her replacement Mike Candela, and this fantastic time for the growth of Bakersfield baseball is far from over.”
Mike Candela takes over with more than eight years of experience in a minor league front office, initially working with the Visalia franchise as Director of Ticket Sales from 2008-2012. While with Visalia, Mike was a key cog in the franchise’s transition from Oaks to Rawhide, and his work in the Ticketing Department led to the team setting attendance records in multiple years. Candela joined the Bakersfield Blaze in late 2012 as Assistant General Manager, and has worked closely with Elizabeth Martin to build the current culture of baseball in Bakersfield.
Those on Candela’s staff know he is the right man for the job. Dan Besbris, the club’s longtime broadcaster, noted, “I have known Mike since 2008, and he and I have become like brothers. We’ve worked more 20-hour days together than I care to mention, and I could not be more thrilled for one of my best friends. Why should Bakersfield be excited? Because this man will not sleep until Sam Lynn Ballpark and Bakersfield Blaze baseball are perfect. He’s the first one in the office every morning, he doesn’t sleep until every task is done, and he cares deeply about the club. He leads by example, and that’s why his staff can’t wait to help him lift this team to the top.”
Prior to his promotion to General Manager, Candela led the push for a larger community engagement of the organization and its players, helping to grow the team’s fundraising and local appearance effort by working with more nonprofits and hiring new staff focused on community involvement. Candela was also a driving force for the current season’s biggest promotion, the 75th Anniversary Throwback Jersey Giveaway Nights, and in his time as Assistant General Manager, most fans have come to know his sometimes-bearded face as the smiling face at the stadium front entrance.
“This is my dream,” an elated Candela said. “Eight years ago I set foot in a trailer in Visalia, and for eight years I’ve been working toward this goal. For those that have come to love Blaze baseball over the past six years, or even 75 years, know that I will continue to work hard to keep a bright future for the team while honoring the club’s storied past. I love baseball, I love the city of Bakersfield and Kern County, and I intend to build upon what Elizabeth started. Let’s roll.”
Information provided by the Bakersfield Blaze