Jimmie Lee Solomon is truly a renaissance man. While sports provided him a gateway to the world, it also provided him the impetus to find his authentic voice. His voice is one that resonates far beyond the fields of competition that he inhabited first as a player, then as an executive and policy maker.
Jimmie Lee Solomon is still prominent in the halls of not one but two Ivy League institutions; Dartmouth College and Harvard University. Jimmie Lee ran track and played football at Dartmouth College from 1974-78 with records that still endure today. He went on to receive his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1981. For ten years he was a power broker in Washington D.C., as a young associate and then a partner at the law firm of Baker and Hostetler. Moreover, for twenty-one years, Jimmie Lee shaped policy and culture for Major League Baseball, its staff, its players, its umpires and its worldwide fan base.
Although his professional resume is impressive, no matter what phase you examine; it is as EVP of Operations and then Development of MLB where he provided the greatest impact on American society. As EVP of Operations, Jimmie Lee brokered a deal with minor league owners, which, over the years, has earned MLB nearly $200M in ticket revenue. He also created MLB’s All-Star Futures Game, whereby MLB showcases its minor league prospects during its All-Star Celebration. It should also be noted that Jimmie Lee was one of the primary architects behind the implementation of the establishment of the MLB Instant Replay System.
During his long tenure with MLB, Jimmie Lee oversaw all aspects of the industry’s operations, including Major League Operations, Minor League Operations, International Operations, Stadiums and Facilities, Discipline, Security, Umpires and Scouting. Although rewarding in its own right, Jimmie Lee saw this platform as an opportunity to delve into his love of history and humanity. He saw it as way to create programs aimed at social change through sports. Through the implementation of programs such as The Civil Rights Game and the MLB Urban Youth Academies, Solomon demonstrated his ability to affect change in a variety of philanthropic and socially relevant ways, earning awards and accolades for MLB and himself on the national stage.
Since 2007, The Civil Rights Game has honored those who fought tirelessly in the Civil Rights Movement, while reaffirming the commitment of MLB to lead in the area of diversity. In 2006, MLB opened its first urban youth academy in Compton, California. Jimmie Lee’s dream was to establish baseball academies in densely populated, underserved, urban areas to bring baseball, education and vocational training to the youth of these communities. There are currently academies in Compton, Houston, New Orleans and San Juan, Puerto Rico, with plans for Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Miami. To date, more than 150 academy kids have been drafted into professional baseball and more than 300 academy kids are in college on some form of baseball or softball scholarship. More importantly, however, more than 25,000 young people have had their lives positively impacted by these academies.
Throughout his career Jimmie Lee has been called on to share his vast and varied experiences as an Ivy League student, attorney and MLB executive with organizations around the world. Part of the reason he is such a sought-after speaker and thought leader is the contrast between his resounding success and his humble beginnings as a boy who grew up poor on a farm in a small town outside of Houston and grew into the change agent that he is today.