Marc Okkonen, Baseball Maven of a Sartorial Bent, Dies at 85

Marc Okkonen was watching the movie “The Natural” in 1984 when his attention shifted from its story of the mysterious slugger Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, to the uniforms worn by Hobbs’s opponents onscreen.

Mr. Okkonen, a commercial artist and baseball aficionado with an appreciation for vintage apparel, spotted flaws in the purported uniforms of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs and wondered why they were not precise replicas of the originals from 1939, when the movie takes place. Given how thoroughly documented baseball’s history is, he thought, accurate details would not have been too difficult to uncover.

But, to Mr. Okkonen’s surprise, he could find no single volume containing images of historic uniforms, so he set out to fill that void. He spent the next five years poring through books, microfilms and archives, including those at the Library of Congress and the Baseball Hall of Fame, to find images of every home and road uniform worn by all major league teams, starting in 1900.

For a time he lived close to the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he could search through its trove of old photos and uniforms.

Mr. Okkonen (pronounced OH-ken-en) died on Monday in a nursing home in Muskegon, Mich., after a fall, his sister, Mary Westhoff, said. He was 85.

After graduating from Muskegon High School, he worked in the local Continental Motors factory and entered the Army in 1953, serving in Korea and Japan during and after the Korean War.

Following his discharge, he returned to Continental as a draftsman and began his career as an artist. He left Michigan for California, where he was married and divorced and attended junior college. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Dearborn, in 1970.

While working as an artist, Mr. Okkonen eased into a separate career as a historian. In 1989, he published “The Federal League of 1914-1915: Baseball’s Third Major League,” a lavishly illustrated book about a short-lived rival to baseball’s established National and American Leagues.

He also wrote “The Ty Cobb Scrapbook” (2001); a series of three books that examined different eras in baseball history; and “2,000 Cups of Coffee” (2010), about the players whose major league careers consisted of 10 games or fewer.

In 2014, he won the Henry Chadwick Award from the Society for Baseball Research. “By turning his artistic eye to baseball and pursuing his passion, Marc Okkonen left baseball researchers with a singular legacy,” the organization said at the time.

Mr. Okkonen also wrote about Michigan, including books about minor league baseball in the state and baseball’s history in Muskegon. With Ron Pesch, he wrote about Muskegon High School football and the silent-film star Buster Keaton’s link to the city, where he spent many summers.

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