Moneyball looks to grow by reaching high schools and using the vision of former basketball player Desmond Ferguson.
OKEMOS, Mich. – The Moneyball Sportswear slogan is bold: “The uniform of champions.”
The Lansing sports brand is looking to make inroads in the crowded sports apparel market and is finding success. Its owner, Desmond Ferguson, played basketball at Lansing Everett, three years at Detroit Mercy, then a professional career overseas and briefly in the NBA.
He came up with the Moneyball idea while playing internationally, later created it in 2002. The name, “Moneyball”, comes from former NBA stars/AAU teammates Kevin Garnett and the late Robert “Tractor” Traylor.
Ferguson was a lights-out shooter, and whenever he scored a basket, his teammates would yell out “Moneyball!” The name stuck.
The brand was created to provide high schools with alternative means of outfitting, tailored specifically to their color scheme, logo, and nickname.
“We are not a sponsor, we are an outfitter,” said Ron Ferguson, Desmond’s younger brother and part of the Moneyball business. “When we provide uniforms and gear, they are custom-made to fit the school. We have graphic designers who can spin the logos and put the uniforms together in a way that they look different from the competition and are distinct to the respective school.
“With the bigger brands, a head coach or athletic director would have to call them and place an order for a preset uniform design. We want to stand out amongst the competition.”
Basketball and the business run in the family. Ron is also a former player, having played junior college basketball at Lansing Community College before transferring to Saginaw Valley State. When Ron graduated in 2011, he knew that he would be a part of the Moneyball team.
Moneyball Sportswear’s logo is a mashup of the “MB” acronym, a change from the original logo that featured a silhouette of Desmond shooting a basketball. The new logo was designed to break Moneyball away from being just a basketball brand.
“We want to feature all sports,” said Ron. “Although we were originally a basketball brand, we didn’t want to be stuck in a box. We knew that we would be better off outfitting every sport. We have a great thing going on with the different high schools, AAU teams, and we even serve the "Lansing United" soccer team.”
Moneyball outfits Everett and Waverly High Schools, as well as other high schools across Michigan. The brand also served as the outfitter for the 2007 Saginaw High School state championship team, led by MSU-alum and three-time NBA champion Draymond Green. Moneyball was also the outfitter for Spire Institute in Ohio, led by MSU-commit “Rocket” Watts Jr. and Lamelo Ball, before they switched to Nike.
“I think it’s great that our brand carries weight,” said Ron Ferguson. “I love the fact that the big brands are noticing us and that we have been able to expand our brand worldwide.”
Moneyball also operates the Moneyball Pro-Am summer basketball league, an annual event they started back in 2004. It is the only Division I certified Pro-Am circuit in the state of Michigan, which allows college and professional, active or retired, players to compete. The games are free to the public and draw big crowds. Former MSU forwards Miles Bridges and Denzel Valentine competed in the league last summer.
“The great thing about the Moneyball Pro-Am league is that when a player commits to MSU, he will more than likely wear a Moneyball uniform before he puts on an MSU jersey,” said Ron. “In addition to the competition, the support is great, and the atmosphere is alive. We’ve had small crowds of dozens and large crowds of maybe thousands to watch the guys compete.”
Moneyball currently has two stores in the Lansing area; one at Meridian Mall and the other in Waverly. Both locations offer retail sportswear such as t-shirts, sweaters, socks, sandals, and even basketballs, and the Waverly location has custom uniforms. Moneyball is expanding to Metro Detroit, opening in Southfield on March 23.
“We want to build relationships with our customers and the community,” said Paul Anderson, a sales associate at the Waverly location. “I get new customers in the store every other day it seems like. We want to create a great in-store experience especially since not many people know about us. We want Moneyball to become a household name.”