Former MLB exec Jimmie Lee Solomon dies
Jimmie Lee Solomon, a onetime executive for Major League Baseball, died Thursday. He was 64 years old.
“I am surprised and saddened by the news of the passing of our former colleague Jimmie Lee Solomon, who served Major League Baseball in various roles, including as both executive vice president of baseball operations and executive vice president of baseball development,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Jimmie Lee was passionate about providing opportunities to young athletes and advancing baseball in our communities. Our network of youth academies across the country is in large part a credit to his hard work and dedication. All of us at MLB send our condolences to Jimmie Lee’s family and friends, and appreciate his impact on our great game.”
During a career that lasted 21 years, Solomon was for years one of the most prominent African American executives in Major League Baseball. He went from director of Minor League operations in 1991 to executive vice president for baseball development in 2012. Between, Solomon left a legacy that will not be forgotten.
Long before Bryce Harper and Mike Trout became stars, they appeared in the Futures Game, a contest created in 1999 by Solomon as part of the All-Star Game festivities. It was Solomon who made sure that baseball’s connection to the civil rights movement was never forgotten by creating the Civil Rights Games, played annually from 2007-15. Solomon was instrumental in providing outreach to African American kids by creating the first MLB Youth Academy in Compton College, Calif. There are now Urban Youth Academies in 10 additional locations -- Kansas City; Chicago; Bronx, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Washington DC; New Orleans; Houston; Arlington; and Puerto Rico.
“I was so sorry to hear of Jimmie Lee Solomon’s passing,” Sharon Robinson, the daughter of Jackie Robinson, said. “He was a friend and co-worker at MLB. All that knew Jimmie have a favorite story to tell. He touched many lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Solomon also built on an idea generated by Dave Winfield by having Negro League players selected during the 2008 Draft. Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, for example, was selected by the Nationals, and country singer Charley Pride by the Rangers.
“Jimmy brought it to fruition,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro League Baseball Museum. “For me, it was one of the proudest moments ever. Jimmie was a longtime friend of the museum and came out to our place several times and represented Major League Baseball.”
A native of Texas, Solomon was a distinguished student and lawyer before joining MLB. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, working for several law firms, including Sara Leon & Associates, LLC. He was a former partner at Baker and Hostetler Law Firm, as well.