Old Photos Of Ballplayers In Locker Rooms Feel Dirty. In A Good Way.S

Maybe it's just banal nostalgia, but photographers working years ago seemed to take better pictures of ballplayers in their locker rooms than photographers do today.

[See photos of ballplayers smoking, drinking, roughhousing . . . you know, locker rooming.]

Maybe it's a question of "access" — that catchall term more often employed in the world of celebrities than in big-time sports. Perhaps it has something to do with class — or more specifically, cash. After all, in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, very few ballplayers could be called even remotely rich. Many of them worked during the off-season to make ends meet. Most of today's players, meanwhile, reside in a universe of entitlement and wealth impossibly removed from the day-to-day existence of the vast majority of the journalists covering them.

Whatever the reason, old-school pictures from the locker room feel a little more raw, a little more real than those we see today. Hell, you can almost smell the Barbasol. . . .

Ben Cosgrove is the editor of LIFE.com. Picture This is his weekly (and occasionally more frequent) feature for The Stacks.

Photo: George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images