Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

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

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