2022 Inductee Bios
‘Bruce Doney: Making the game better’
Doney’s love for baseball has spanned a lifetime
By Glenn Miller
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Bruce Doney’s baseball resume is a glittering record of achievements on and off the field.
The Roy Hobbs World Series part of the resume dates back to 1994, his first event in Fort Myers. Doney has played, recruited and managed AA through AAAA in various age divisions for Minnesota teams, the Saints, Bandits and Bees.
Now, in 2022, Bruce Doney is a Roy Hobbs Baseball Hall of Famer. He is the only 2022 inductee, a testament to how difficult it is reaching this plateau.
“This is an epic deal for me,” Doney, 70, said. “It’s a humbling thing.”
Election to the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame is based on more important achievements than merely championships won or home runs hit, or games won.
Character and making the game better for others are among the attributes voters consider with candidates. Doney qualifies across the board, on and off the field.
He was nominated for the Hall of Fame by another Hall of Famer and fellow Minnesotan, Tim Doboszenski, who was inducted in 2021.
He knows Doney does more than play the game. He makes it possible for others to play. Doney, a retired paramedic and police officer, also has coached for decades. Doboszenski said Doney volunteers to coach pool teams in multiple age divisions during the Sunshine Classic.
“His involvement is often the reason why people come to play or even spectate,” Doboszenski said.
Family comes first
Doney also has the on-field achievements to cement his election. Teammate and Hall of Fame reference Terry Knop pointed out that Doney played on 4 Roy Hobbs World Series championship teams with the Bees.
As the Hall of Fame process moved forward earlier this year, Doney caught a whiff that he was being considered.
“I wasn’t totally sure,” Doney said.
A rigorous baseball vetting process goes into the Hall of Fame consideration. Doney definitely has the longevity to qualify. He said he’s missed only 3 World Series since his first in 1994.
Then in August came the call from Roy Hobbs Baseball president Tom Giffen. Then came time for Doney to notify his daughter, Nicole Meints, and son, Chris, about the honor.
He coached Chris, now 40, from T-ball to Town Ball, a Minnesota amateur baseball tradition. His children know the long journey of dad and baseball.
When Doney was born in 1952, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, the Giants were still in New York, the Braves were still in Boston and the A’s were still in Philadelphia. There was no divisional play and the MLB season was 154 games.
Doney is still playing the game he loves after all these years.
“I feel blessed to be doing it at my age,” Doney said.
His children have noticed.
“It’s really remarkable that he’s playing at his age,” said Meints.
Growing up for Doney’s children meant visits to ballparks where dad coached or played. They connected with other children and families on those baseball outings.
“Became like a second family,” Meints said.
She knows what the game means to her dad.
“It brings him joy,” Meints said. “He loves to share the game with others.”
That’s a theme Doboszenski echoed.
“He brings a smile to everybody,” Doboszenski, 59, said. “He always has time for everybody.
A true clean-up hitter
And he has time to pitch in and help out in small ways that don’t get attention on ballfields.
“He has a way with remembering everyone he crosses paths with and has respect for everyone he meets. To Bruce, everyone is a teammate; he does not have opponents. He has helped out in the Roy Hobbs locker room with the laundry when they were short on staff.”
So, that might make Doney a clean-up hitter no matter where he bats in a lineup.
Doboszenski should know about Doney. He said the first year he met Doney was in 1998 and it was at the Roy Hobbs World Series. So that’s nearly a quarter of a century, which is plenty of time to get the measure of a man’s character.
Baseball has been part of Doney’s life since he was a boy and played in fields in Ortonville, Minnesota, which is near the state line with South Dakota. He continued playing through his teens as a four-year starting shortstop at Ortonville High School and on to playing with the Ortonville Rox in amateur adult baseball.
As a young man he participated in a Minnesota Twins open tryout at Metropolitan Stadium and even blasted a ball into the strands. Alas, Doney was not signed.
But he has continued playing, moving on through the age brackets, from 35s thru 50s and 65s and now in the year he turns 70 is still playing.
As Hall of Fame reference Tim Sparrow put it, “Bruce’s dedication and loyalty to Roy Hobbs Baseball runs deep.”
That extends beyond the time spent at ballfields.
“Bruce has rented a house in Fort Myers for many years,” Sparrow said, “I have been fortunate to be able to stay with him and he has opened the invitation to my family. It started with just my wife and I and has now expanded to my children and grandchildren coming down.
“My family has informed me that if for some reason I can’t make it to play the tournament, they will be coming down to and stay with Bruce.”
As a first responder, Doney exhibited his compassion courage and character numerous times.
Years ago, the people of Minnesota were blessed to have Doney looking out for them.
Now that he is retired, getting away to the Roy Hobbs World Series is easier. That wasn’t always the case.
“When I was still working, I saved all my vacation time for that tournament,” Doney said.
When he travels to Fort Myers this fall it will be for more than playing or managing or encouraging or mentoring or sharing a house with others.
Bruce Doney will be inducted into the Roy Hobbs Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s a singular honor in 2022.
Jose Caballero: 2022 Hobbs Ambassador Recipient
Love of country, baseball define Caballero’s passions
By Glenn Miller
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Roy Hobbs Baseball in particular and baseball in general mean a great deal to Jose Caballero.
But something bigger and grander means a great deal more for this Cuban emigre who left his native country at a young age.
That something is his adopted home – the United States of America. The country welcomed him and gave him and his family opportunities and he is profoundly grateful.
When it was suggested playfully that he might prefer being an Ambassador for America to a Roy Hobbs Baseball Ambassador he responded with great enthusiasm in the affirmative.
So, meet Jose Caballero – the 2022 Brian Mullen Roy Hobbs Ambassador of Baseball.
“You better believe it!” Caballero said.
He then repeated those four words three more times.
“You better believe it!”
And again. …
“You better believe it!”
And one more time.
“You better believe it!”
The 71-year-old Miami Lakes resident loves America as well as Roy Hobbs Baseball.
When he first heard about the Ambassador of Baseball Award, he wasn’t sure what to make of it.
Overcoming the odd
“To tell you the truth I don’t know what the ambassador award is,” Caballero admitted. “But it’s a great honor because it’s Roy Hobbs.”
Playing the game he loves and participating in the Roy Hobbs World Series means a great deal to Caballero. He nearly lost it three years ago.
In September of 2019 he fell off a ladder and broke 10 ribs and had other injuries. He was flown by helicopter to a hospital. He was hospitalized for 3 weeks. Yet, through the pain, baseball was on his mind.
“The first thing I asked the doctor was when can I play baseball again,” Caballero said.
It would take some time. Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame trustee Flip Harrison said the injuries would have prevented most men from ever playing again.
“The resolve to get back on the field inspired all of us,” Harrison said.
Caballero has participated in the Roy Hobbs World Series for 16 years, winning honors and titles in AA play. He is a 4-time MVP for the Richmond Riverdogs, a 2-time MVP for the Orlando Freedom and also was MVP once for the Tidewater Drillers.
Caballero, a nominee for the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame, came up short. His story and life are so inspiring and compelling, the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame trustees unanimously named him the 2022 Ambassador. Harrison and Hall of Fame references Gerry Huppman and Robert Misko were effusive in praising Caballero.
“I know that based on character alone, he should be in the RH HOF,” Harrison wrote in his nomination. “Based on how he treats our opponents, he should be in the RH HOF. Based on how much he loves this country, after growing up and escaping from an oppressive country like Cuba, and the way he’s unafraid of telling anyone who asks, how great it is to live here, he should be in the RH HOF.”
The trustees know his story. They know how Caballero left Cuba in 1966 and went first went to Spain and then Venezuela before coming to this country with only $5. He didn’t speak English.
“That’s a true story,” Caballero said. “Thanks to this country, if you work hard you can make it.”
Jose Caballero has made it.
America provides opportunity
His American success story began only a few years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba in 1959 and turned the country into a communist dictatorship. Caballero’s father, Juan, had a car dealership and, Caballero said, “lost everything.”
But America provided opportunity and Caballero took that opportunity in both hands, starting to work in a body shop at 16, learned the trade and then opened his own auto body shop in Miami and built the business. He made the business a success and was able to retire at 55.
He’s shared his success with others. Huppman said Caballero has helped make it possible for players without his financial resources to participate in the Roy Hobbs World Series. That includes covering transportation and lodging.
Misko said that Caballero expects everybody to respect the game of baseball. Misko added that teammates and even opponents often contribute equipment so that Caballero can then distribute the items to youth leagues in South Florida.
“Whether on or off the field. … an All-Star in the eyes of his peers and teammates,” Misko said.
His love of country and baseball shines through.
“If ever there was a spokesman for freedom loving people, it would be him,” Harrison said.
About love of the game and its status as America’s pastime, Harrison said, “. … Caballero is the caretaker I’d want to guard it.”
He is willing to risk it all to do what he thinks is right. Huppman said Caballero financed a charter boat, guide and crew to return to Cuba to liberate his younger sister out of the country. Was he afraid? Huppman asked that question and said Caballero told him he was more afraid about what would happen to his sister if she remained in Cuba.
Now, after more than half a century in the U.S., Caballero knows his success would not have been possible in Cuba.
“This is the best country in the world,” Caballero said.
Spoken like a true ambassador not only for Roy Hobbs Baseball but for the Unites States of America. Caballero sounds a bit wistful at times talking about the land of his youth and boyhood and family history.
“I love the country, but I don’t like the regime,” Caballero said.
The land and the people and culture of Cuba are one thing for Caballero but the government is quite another.
In his years here, he certainly has noticed that nobody seems to flee America for Cuba.
“Do you see anybody going south?” he asked.
No, most people prefer life in the country of Jose Caballero.
Misko knows many people have benefited from Caballero’s generosity and time.
“As part of a legacy,” Misko said, “if only one person remembers you and the time you spent with them as a mentor, you have crossed the finish line as a champion.”
Jose Caballero is a champion as well as an Ambassador with a capital A.