The Sultan of Stitch By focusing on a single market, tiny Majestic Athletic broke into the big leagues.
By Curtis Rist

(Business 2.0) – Tough as they might look diving for line drives, pro ballplayers are a notoriously fussy bunch. Frank Coppenbarger, equipment manager for the Philadelphia Phillies, knows firsthand. He used to hear countless gripes about the team's uniform maker, sporting-goods juggernaut Russell. "It was always something wrong, like the pants didn't fit or they didn't feel good," Coppenbarger says. Worse, Russell committed its fair share of errors, like delivering pinstripes with misspelled names, or not delivering at all.

But ever since Coppenbarger switched to a little-known, little-guy rival--Majestic Athletic, a family-owned outfit in Bangor, Pa.--peace has returned to the clubhouse. "Majestic always has a uniform with the player's name on it, ready for the first game," Coppenbarger says. "They even have someone drive it from the factory. I don't hear any complaints. End of story."

And the start of a big story for Majestic. This year the company--which makes apparel for 16 of the 30 teams in the majors--beat out Adidas, Nike, and Reebok to become not just the sole uni supplier to Major League Baseball but its exclusive licensee starting next season. It's a deal estimated to be worth more than $100 million--a major windfall for a company the size of Majestic, which rang up $150 million in sales in 2003. "I've always loved the game," says company president Faust Capobianco. "But let's just say my feelings have intensified." -- CURTIS RIST