Thorn: Is it baseball or base ball?

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on August 16, 2012:

Continuing yesterday’s lexicographic musings, I offer this, located moments ago on page 13 of the Trenton Evening Times of November 13, 1915. For students of the old ball game, or old ballgame, this subject has been one of enduring vexation. The author is, yet again, Old Anon.

Is it baseball? No. Clarence, this is not foolish question NO. 2,473. It is asked in all seriousness, and the question affords opportunity for much controversy in the councils of the Hot Stove League.

So far as the great majority of those able and brilliant men who write baseball dope for the daily press are concerned, the issue was decided long ago. Baseball is base­ball. If there is a sporting writer on a daily paper in the United States or Canada who holds that baseball isn’t baseball, the writer isn’t aware of his identity.

Most of the up-to-date dictionaries of the American language uphold the contention of the baseball writers that baseball is baseball. Backed up by such good authority as this, the matter should be considered as setttled, perhaps. But it isn’t. A small but influential minority con­tinue to adhere to the old notion that baseball isn’t baseball at all, but base ball. That is, that it is not one word, but two.

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Originally published: August 16, 2012. Last Updated: August 16, 2012.