The logo for Moneyball Sportswear is swooping and almost avian, a stylized M and B coming together beaklike in the center, with the sides spreading out like wings and a little talon cutting in on the right. If you scroll through the company’s Facebook page, you’ll see that emblem emblazoned across hydration backpacks, sports socks, hoodies, headbands and yoga pants. It’s embedded in slogan T-shirts that chant feel-good mantras like “Perfectly Imperfect” and “I See. I Want. I Grind. I Get.”
If you keep scrolling, you’ll also see it stitched into local Little League team jerseys, high school basketball team shorts — and the right shoulder of jerseys for Swords Thunder, a basketball team in the Irish Premier League. The little bird gets around.
“This is my baby,” said Desmond Ferguson, the CEO/ founder of Moneyball, a Lansing-based custom sports uniform and retail athletic wear store. “It’s getting a little bigger every year. We’re international now. The goal is to eventually be big enough to compete with Nike.”
Yes, he’s the same Desmond Ferguson who coaches the boys varsity basketball team at his alma mater, Everett High School. Ferguson, 38, served as an assistant coach under longtime Vikings head coach Johnny Jones in 2011 before taking over the team in 2012.
“I’m probably not going to be here as long as Coach Jones, who was here 33 years, but I plan on sticking around awhile,” Ferguson said. “I love basketball and I love this school. I want to get them back to winning.”
(After several losing seasons, Ferguson led the team to the Class A state semifinals last year, finishing 24-3 and capturing Capital Area Activities Conference district and regional titles.)
It was in high school that Ferguson earned the nickname “Moneyball” for his ability to hit three-pointers. After he graduated from Everett in 1995, Ferguson attended the University of Missouri for a year, playing on the school’s basketball team. He moved back to Michigan his sophomore year and finished his business management degree at the University of Detroit-Mercy, where he also helped the Titans advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament two years in a row.
After that he played internationally — Holland, Italy and the Philippines — and was even briefly signed for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. Ferguson said it was during this time that he was able to lay a lot of the groundwork for Moneyball Sportswear.
“I knew I wouldn’t be able to play forever, so in my travels I started making connections with different clothing makers,” Ferguson says. “Basketball is my life, so the idea of making basketball uniforms kept coming back to me. I did a lot of research and saw that custom jersey manufacturing was (an underserved market).”
Ferguson started with basketball jerseys, but soon branched out to include baseball, football and soccer uniforms. He worked out of a 1,000-square-foot space adjacent to a Quality Dairy on the corner of Pleasant Grove and Holmes roads. He counts both Everett and Eastern High School as clients, as well as Detroit Public Schools and other districts around the country. Then came international contracts with minor league teams in Canada, the Virgin Islands, Bulgaria and Ireland.
He works with an in-house designer who creates the jerseys, shirts and other items, then outsources the production abroad. The addition of retail clothing led to a search for a bigger storefront, and in October he was able to more than double his footprint when he moved into a 2,300-square-foot space in the Shops at 603, a strip mall — also home to Nola Bistro — near the corner of Waverly Road and Saginaw Highway.
“It’s been a very good move for us,” Ferguson said. “We’ve seen a big increase in foot traffic and we’re seeing a lot of new faces. Things are definitely moving in the right direction.”
Moneyball also has an online store, and Ferguson has sales representatives in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and North Carolina. And while he’s up to his ears in coaching duties, Moneyball is his driving force.
“We’re busy, but we’re still growing,” Ferguson said. “We’re still just crawling compared with how big this can be.”
More sandwiches on Washington Square
Ohio-based deli JB’s Sarnie Shoppe has reached a deal with the Eyde Co. to lease about 2,000 square feet of space on the Knapp Centre’s first floor. Owner Gareth Jones said he learned about the location from Nick Eyde while looking for a space in Toledo, where the Eyde Co. also leases business properties.
“I traveled up there a few times. It’s a great location,” Jones said of the Knapp’s Centre. “There’s a lot of buzz in downtown Lansing.”
This will be the second JB’s Sarnie Shop location, and Jones plans to open a third location in Toledo this year. The restaurant offers a variety of deli-style sandwiches, as well as soups, salads and smoothies. Construction on the Lansing site should begin in the next few weeks, and Jones hopes to open the shop by April.
Gone (ice) fishing
Copper Dine & Drink, the restaurant at the Walnut Hills Country Club, announced that it will be closed until spring. Chalk it up to January and February being notoriously bad golfing months.
Ty Forquer contributed to this article.
Moneyball Sportswear 603 N. Waverly Road, Suite 3A, Lansing 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily Monday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday. (517) 393-0763, moneyballsportswear.com