Austin attorney to take part in SABR Negro Leagues research

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(ABC 6 News) – Paul Spyhalski is a well-known name in the city of Austin, Minn., constantly working to defend his neighbors in the courtroom for the past two decades.

But Spyhalski isn’t just working as a lawyer in the justice system. He’s also making sure everyone’s represented in the world of sports.

There’s a large amount of Black baseball history in America missing before the founding of the Negro Leagues in 1920. The Society of American Baseball Research is one group hoping to piece together this missing history.

The Society of American Baseball Research is all about collecting the lost history of the game, and no era is more incomplete with its documentation than Black baseball before the Negro Leagues.

Spyhalski is working on piecing together the missing history of Black baseball in America before renowned 2nd baseman — Jackie Robinson — broke the color barrier.

Back in 2020, Spyhalski worked on a major project for SABR exploring the history of the Negro Leagues from 1920 to 1960 — these missing decades now incorporated into the history of the league by Major League Baseball.

“These are the players, these are the leagues, these are the teams that we know so far we believe are comparable to the white Major Leagues,” said Spyhalski.

His current project is focusing in on that lost era of Black baseball when many teams were barn storming across America, including southern Minnesota.

“We’re going to go all the way back to the 1880s, start looking at some of the early teams that were formation teams in baseball. All the way up to the 1950s when Hank Aaron was playing with the Indianapolis Clowns,” said Spyhalski.

For Spyhalski it’s a fulfilling project to put the pieces of a historical puzzle together for baseball nerds and fans alike.

“So much of the Negro Leagues history has been I saw, I heard, this is what occurred. And one of the big miss is that they played a lot but they played town ball teams. They did play in southern Minnesota against the Rochester Royals and Austin Packers,” said Spyhalski.

Spyhalski and the research group are set to complete their findings for SABR on April 15, the anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s MLB debut.