These are some damn good pictures. There is energy here — a genuine playfulness and terrific personalities. But the real appeal of these George Silk photos from the Dodgers' spring training camp in 1948 is the singular glimpse they afford of baseball in post-WWII America.
Yes, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier the previous year, and while there were a small handful of black players in the majors by then, at Dodgertown in '48 all the rookies and Dodger hopefuls were, evidently, white. But jarring racial uniformity aside, the photos in the gallery serve as a reminder of the game's attraction for fans who might have forgotten why they fell in love with baseball in the first place: the sound of bat against ball, and ball against glove; the mingled smells of dirt, sweat, grass, wood and leather; warm sunshine, and the cool of the dugout; the thrill of competition and the beauty of teamwork; the pure geometry of the diamond — all of these pleasures are, to varying degrees, given life in Silk's spirited pictures.
Tell ya what. Let's play two!
Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com. Picture This is his weekly (and occasionally more frequent) feature for The Stacks.
Photo Credit: George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images