Press release Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball’s Jim Small has been promoted from Vice President, Asia Pacific, to Senior Vice President, International, and will now oversee the league’s global strategy and international offices in his new role. In other MLB International promotions, Charlie Hill has been elevated from Managing Director, EMEA, to Vice President, International Strategic Development. Rodrigo Fernandez was promoted to Managing Director, Latin America, and Sami Kawakami will replace many of Small’s responsibilities as the new Managing Director, Japan.
In his new role, Small will be responsible for growing MLB’s brand and development globally, planning MLB’s international play schedule, generating new opportunities to grow the sport’s popularity internationally, creating and nurturing a talent pipeline in key markets, and overseeing the World Baseball Classic. Small will oversee the league’s four international offices and coordinate their efforts with MLB’s global media, sponsorship and consumer products departments in the Commissioner’s Office.
Small, who will relocate back to New York City, has been a driving force in developing MLB’s growing presence in Asia over the past 15 years, establishing MLB’s first Asia office in Tokyo in 2003. Small’s leadership in the region has led to a 400% growth in media rights in Japan over the last 10 years; regular season or exhibition games in Tokyo, Osaka, Beijing, Taipei and Sydney; a business in China that boasts more than 30 million unique program participants, broadcasting of MLB games that reach nearly 1 billion potential viewers and the development of Chinese professional baseball players.
“Jim Small has been an integral part of Major League Baseball’s growth around the world and his extensive experience will be critical as we move into an era of an unprecedented number of international competitions for the league,” said Tony Petitti, MLB Deputy Commissioner, Business and Media. “Charlie, Rodrigo and Sami have all established themselves as important contributors to our international development. They will be important leaders as we continue baseball’s global development and further MLB’s rich diversity by cultivating the best baseball players from around the world.”
Charlie Hill, who will continue working out of MLB’s London office, will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic growth initiatives across all international markets in his new role. Since joining MLB in December 2015 as Managing Director, EMEA, Hill has played a key role in the growth of the consumer products business and in securing MLB’s first ever games in Europe in June 2019, when the Red Sox and Yankees will square off at London Stadium. Hill also oversaw the implementation of new fan engagement initiatives, including a corporate softball league, virtual reality experiences at retail, and a revamped “home run derby” format launched in London in front of 20,000 fans.
Rodrigo Fernandez joined MLB in March 2016 as Managing Director, Mexico, and opened MLB’s first office in the country. In Fernandez’s expanded role, he will lead MLB initiatives throughout all of Latin America and oversee the increasing number of competitions in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Since Fernandez started, MLB grew its fan base in Mexico, increased its television ratings on both free and pay television, successfully executed regular and preseason games in Mexico, and developed new properties such as the MLB Cup and school experiences.
Since joining MLB Japan in 2004, Sami Kawakami has been responsible for creating marketing partnerships with more than 40 Japanese and international companies, establishing an experiential marketing department that has brought an MLB experience to more than 250,000 participants and taken a lead role in the execution of more than 30 World Baseball Classic games played in the country since 2006.