JIMMIE LEE SOLOMON, MAJOR League Baseball’s executive director of minor league operations, has just done something remarkable, something he almost never does in public. With a long, deep breath, he has come, for a fleeting moment, to a complete and sudden stop.
Indeed, in the previous ten minutes or so of this May afternoon, from behind a desk in his small New York office on the seventeenth floor of a Park Avenue high rise, Solomon was such a mad flurry of nonstop motion he seemed to produce a slight breeze. Demonstrating perfect balance, he simultaneously chatted up someone on the phone, talking so quickly you’d swear he was creating a hybrid language; hand signaled to somebody sitting in front of him; flipped through several memos; and munched his way through a lunch of blueberry yogurt and a large fruit salad.
Solomon developed this type-A personality growing up on a hundred-acre farm in Thompsons (population: 200), a speck on the map in Fort Bend County. “My father, who was a cattle rancher all his life, believed two things: that laziness was a curse and that his sons were made to be farmhands,” says Solomon. “So I had this strong work ethic of making sure I was always doing something and getting a lot done quickly, but I also had this strong aversion to farm life. In fact, farm life is probably the biggest reason why I’m here today, because I ran from it as fast as I could. As a kid it was the motivation for me to play every sport I could and do well in all my classes—anything, than to come home and be at my father’s mercy.”
Since July 1991, the forty-year-old Solomon has been one of baseball’s highest-ranking black executives, of which, currently, there are still only a